Medway homeowners greatly at risk of losing their homes
Homeowners in Medway are more at risk of losing their bricks and
mortar than almost anywhere else in the South East.
Only Slough in Berkshire has more families in fear of losing
In Medway, one in 79 households faces repossession when they hit
hard times, according to figures released today by homelessness
That compares to the England average of one in 115, taken from
mortgage firms' possession claims figures.
Kent boroughs are among the hardest hit in the region, with
Gravesham, Dartford, Thanet and Maidstone all appearing in the top
10 for repossession threats in the region.
Gravesham has one in 82 homes at risk; Dartford one in 87;
Thanet one in 99 and Maidstone one in 112.
Campbell Rob, chief executive of Shelter, said: "It's truly
shocking how many people in the South East are living with the
threat of becoming homeless.
"In some areas, the risk of being evicted or repossessed is so
high that one home in every street could be affected.
"The report is a stark reminder that homelessness can happen to
anyone - all it takes is one event, such as a redundancy or
relationship break-up, and whole families are at risk of losing
Medway County Court in Chatham holds its "repo day" every
Thursday, with a judge hearing mortgage cases in the morning and
tenants in the afternoon.
There are about 70 cases a week - each lasting as little as five
Keith Towler, housing manager at Medway Citizens' Advice Bureau,
and his team save about 10 of those people from losing their homes
every week through complex payment deferral deals.
He said: "Overall repossessions are going down, but there are
hotspots and Medway is one of them.
"Fewer than half of people turn up to their court hearings. Some
will be so depressed and can't face coming to court because they're
metaphorically hold their hand, go in with them and do the talking
for them. We can help everyone, though we can't necessarily save
Mr Towler said people from all walks of life ended up in the
courts, not just the poorest in society.
He said: "People might have five credit cards and they can't pay
the balance, so they take out a sixth to pay off the fifth. Then
it's a seventh one to pay off the sixth and so on."
He added Maidstone, by contrast, has about 30 repossession
hearings a week.
Although not a victim of home repossession, rough sleeper Wesley
Gurney, 35, has been homeless around Whitstable for the
past eight years.
Life spiralled out of control for Wesley when he went to prison and
has been in and out ever since for crimes like shoplifting.
He said: “You've got to do what you've got to do to survive - a
lot of times that's shoplifting because I haven't got the money to
Street sleeping and sofa surfing have been his only options after
losing his accommodation from the council.
Rough sleeper Wesley
He said: “I left home age 15 and I've had various accommodations
but lost it through my own stupidity - prison is a main part of
Homeless charity Catching Lives, based in Canterbury, offers
people like Wesley a place to stay at night during freezing
Trustee James Duff said: “All year round we run a day centre which
provides food, laundry and a lot more stuff, but this time of year
we run a night shelter using a different church hall every night of
We see 35 to 40 people a day, a lot of those are street
But Wesley said they’re overwhelmed with rough sleepers at this
time of year:
“The other night I was in a shed because I came here too late and
didn't get into the night shelter. I didn't sleep, I just lied
there under a cover, freezing.”
- Click here for more news from across the county...