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Elderly residents of Russell House to be moved out by landlord mhs homes

By Nicola Jordan

Elderly residents are to be moved out of their rented homes to make way for a foyer for vulnerable young people.

Russell House, a sheltered housing scheme run by landlords mhs homes in Chatham is to be refurbished and converted into accommodation for youngsters, some of whom may be homeless.

But some of the people who live at the property in Russell Court in the town centre and their families are concerned that they do not have anywhere else to live yet.

Russell House, in Russell Court, Chatham
Russell House, in Russell Court, Chatham

They also fear they may be relocated to places away from their friends and family and some distance from vital services, like shops, doctors and chemists.

After a consultation mhs homes has announced the closure and expects everyone to be rehomed within six months.

Sue Rudd, supported housing manager, has said in a letter: "I appreciate some residents are worried and this will be an unsettling time. I will do everything I can to make sure the move goes as smoothly as possible."

The housing provider is offering a package, including a removal service, an allowance towards carpets and curtains, disconnection and reconnection of washing machines and telephones and a £6,300 'parachute payment'.

The association has pledged to those living in the block of 29 flats that great care will be taken to ensure they are re-housed in suitable accommodation.

But despite the re-assurance, some are stressed over what could be an uncertain future.

Carianne Russell, who is her mother Deanne Russell’s full-time carer, said they were both “sick with worry”.

The mum-of two, of Walderslade, said: “My mother is registered disabled and has special needs.

“She needs room for her mobility scooter. She has been there for four years and loves it. Her best friend lives just down the road and it’s easy for her to get to bingo.”

“People of their age need stability. It's very sad. "

Stephanie Goad, operations director, said: “We met with residents in January to ask them for feedback about our plans to close Russell House. The consultation period has now ended and after carefully considering the feedback we've made the decision to go ahead with the closure.

"While we understand the upset and disruption this may cause to some residents, on balance it was decided that this outdated scheme was not suited to provide the standards required of modern sheltered accommodation.

"We are working with the residents to do all we can to support them and find them another suitable home that meets their needs. We’ll make sure their move goes as smoothly as possible and will help them with moving costs and settling them into their new homes.

"Future use of the building is yet to be decided.”

Labour leader Cllr Vince Maple
Labour leader Cllr Vince Maple

Medway Council's Labour group leader Cllr Vince Maple and his colleague Tristan Osborne chaired a public meeting with residents.The Labour group has made its feelings known to mhs homes about the closure of Russell House.

Cllr Maple said: "It is very disappointing in the face of strong opposition from current residents and the wider community.

"Loneliness and social isolation for older people is o the rise and residents are concerned they will be moved to a more remote location far away from friends, the wider community and the local amenities. We heard first hand at the recent public meetings how some residents had moved to Russell House on the commitment that it was a 'house for life.' Those residents feel badly let down by mhs. Considering older people need the opportunity to remain as independent as possible, this decision is not in the best interests of current residents."

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