Mums' endless wait for council housing

PUBLISHED: 12:04 17 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:42 24 May 2010

TWO mums in Weston have been waiting for a council home for a combined total of 29 years. Sarah Hembery was left homeless with her two small children when her house was repossessed in 1995 after her husband left. She has been on North Somerset Council's

TWO mums in Weston have been waiting for a council home for a combined total of 29 years.Sarah Hembery was left homeless with her two small children when her house was repossessed in 1995 after her husband left. She has been on North Somerset Council's housing waiting list ever since and been moved between about 20 different addresses.Another mum, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted Councillor Peter Bryant about her 18-year wait for a home.The mum-of-two said: "I'd be surprised if anyone has been on the list longer than me. I won't make myself homeless and try to do the right thing, but I'm not getting a home."I have a long family history in Weston, have never claimed benefits and am fed-up with people from outside getting help before me."By the time I end up with council accommodation it will be sheltered housing."Cllr Bryant said: "People arrive here from elsewhere, get put up for six months in a B&B and then suddenly are regarded as having a local link. "We are stuffing in all these dreadful characters and lowering the standard of communities."If people from outside turn up at the Town Hall homeless we should be far stronger and say no, go back to where you came."Mrs Hembery, who still has no home and is staying with a friend, said: "I've been housed in bed and breakfasts and private accommodation and always been told something will happen in the next six months or so."Bringing up two kids that way has not been good for them. I've had health problems due to the stress and now, about five weeks ago, the housing office told me it can't find me on the system anymore. I couldn't believe it."North Somerset's executive member for housing, Councillor Isabel Cummings, says people who wait that long are often too specific about where they want to live.Cllr Cummings said: "They have probably been very limited as to where they will have a home and only asked for a village location or Worle and their need is not urgent."The majority of housing is on the Bournville, Coronation and Oldmixon estates. Therefore people waiting for particular locations will often have to wait until the current occupants have died or moved into sheltered accommodation. We can't give people homes when there are none."People are also prioritised on need due to criteria such as poor housing, overcrowding or health. The less need the longer they will have to wait."Since April this year, 173 households have been housed within social housing in the area. Of these only 11 were living outside North Somerset."A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "Mrs Hembery's application is on hold because she hasn't updated some details. If she gets all the up to date information to us we will resume her application.

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