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2,000 people a month bid for just 20 council homes in Gravesham

More than 2,000 people a month are bidding for council homes – with just 20 properties available.

Figures released to the Messenger show hundreds of people in Gravesham are trying to move property, but such is the demand, only 1% are getting the houses they want.

To apply for council housing people have to register with Kent Homechoice (KHC), a website for Kent housing applicants.

Gravesham operates a points system, with different circumstances affecting how many points each person is allocated and what properties they can bid for.

Many people have been left angry with the Kent Homechoice bidding system, which the council have labelled a "fair" way to apply for housing.
Many people have been left angry with the Kent Homechoice bidding system, which the council have labelled a "fair" way to apply for housing.

The criteria includes overcrowding, domestic violence, harassment, anti-social behaviour, the need to move to a smaller property and medical reasons, such as no longer being able to use a flight of stairs.

Many people find the KHC process frustrating, as you can only bid for three homes every two weeks.

Becky Titshall, 30, has been bidding for six years and is currently sleeping on the sofa at a friend’s house with her five-year-old daughter Tiana.

The pair left their council home in Coopers Road, Northfleet, after Ms Titshall claimed there were problems including bed bugs and a water tank leak.

She said: “I think it’s disgusting because I’ve been on the council list since 2009 and I was only given five points at the beginning and I still only have five points.

“There’s no hope for anyone. I bid and bid and never get anywhere.”

Wale Adetoro assistant director of housing and environment at the council, said the current system was the best way forward because it allowed people the opportunity to pick where in the borough they want to live.

He said: “It’s a very fair way.

“It hasn’t changed the way points are allocated, the difference is they [bidders] actually make the choice themselves.

“In the old days, officers made the choices.”

Kent homeless charity Porchlight is well known for helping rough sleepers, but it also offers a range of other services, whether it is housing advice or help with social issues in the home.

A spokesman for the charity said that problems with housing were not unique to Gravesham.

He said: “This is a problem faced by all councils – this is a countywide problem.

“There are also many issues with housing reform and bedroom tax adding to people struggling for housing.

“There’s an issue with the private rent sector and one of the problems is that we’ve got private landlords who aren’t willing to take people who are on benefits.”

There are five different types of council accommodation in Gravesham for people to choose from; 282 bungalows, 127 bed sits, 2,102 flats, 320 maisonettes and 2,921 houses – amounting to 5,752 properties.

A council spokesman said: “We try to get people to go into private accommodation when they don’t stand a chance on the council website.

“If people cannot find a house they are often placed in temporary accommodation. There are currently 62 households in this position.”

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