26 November 2017
Please see below a recent response by Medway Green Party to an article which highlighted the numbers of homelessness in Medway but greatly underestimated the number of rough sleepers.
Since writing we have been informed that, thanks to the brilliant work of local homelessness charities such as One Big Family and Medway Help for Homeless (working with AMAT, Pathways and CRS) many street homeless people have been found somewhere to live but the numbers are still too high, currently around 50 people in Medway. In addition there are many people who have had to resort to “sofa-surfing” due to the lack of available accommodation.
We also understand that when the count was done by Medway Council they had been directly informed of the names of over 50 people who were sleeping rough and knew where they were sleeping, yet those people were not counted. They only counted the people who they could see in shop doorways.
A KentOnLine article which points to the “shocking” numbers of homeless people in Medway (highlighted by the charity Shelter), is likely to have greatly underestimated the true number of people in this dreadful predicament, particularly in regard to those forced to sleep rough. When Medway Green Party was last updated by a local charity worker, those sleeping rough in Medway was in the hundreds and not 14 as stated in the article. It is all too easy for Medway Council to gloss over their responsibility when the numbers appear small. We believe the Council’s own figure (presumably the one supplied to Shelter) is based only on those people who one of the Council’s officials has counted sleeping in shop doorways and misses the majority of rough sleepers who prefer less public places.
As night time temperatures approach zero, we urge our Council to make adequate provision for the true number of people currently sleeping rough. Nobody wants to witness a repeat of the tragedies we experienced in Medway last Christmas.
The homeless problem could be greatly helped if there were adequate social housing and affordable homes locally but the Council continues to do little proactively about this need. Proposed developments permitted in Medway, such as that at Rochester Riverside, continue to be woefully inadequate in this regard. The constant focus on high-end housing comes at the expense of those who really need a roof over their heads.
Green Candidate for Rochester West Ward
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