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Residents of mhs property in Russell Court in Chatham told of closure plans by mistake

Elderly residents are said to be in shock after learning from a visiting health worker that they could be moved out of their rented accommodation.

A nurse inadvertently let out the proposal by landlords mhs homes to close Russell House, a sheltered housing scheme in Chatham.

The housing 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.

Russell House, Russell Court, Chatham. Picture: Steve Crispe
Russell House, Russell Court, Chatham. Picture: Steve Crispe

The property in Russell Court is to be refurbished and converted in to a foyer for vulnerable young people, some of whom may be homeless.

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.

Carianne Russell and her mum Deanne
Carianne Russell and her mum Deanne

“Her best friend lives just down the road and it’s easy for her to get to bingo.”

Miss Russell, 51, said they suspected something was amiss because empty flats were not being filled and some repairs have not been carried out.

She said: “mhs has gone to great lengths to say they will get the right accommodation for them.

“But this sort of situation could be life-threatening for some people.

“People of their age need stability. There was a meeting at the home. It was very sad. There was a lot of crying.”

Stephanie Goad, mhs operations director, said: “On Friday we were told by one of our residents there were some rumours about Russell House. We held a meeting the same day and spoke to them openly about the proposals.

“We believe it may have been leaked to them; but this isn’t how we wanted them to find out.

“Russell House provides 29 flats – 24 of which are studio flats. Studio flats can be difficult to let - new tenants expect supported living to have at least one separate bedroom.

“The size of accommodation, facilities available including accessibility are not the standard of housing we want to supply.

“People of their age need stability..." Carianne Russell

“We are proposing to close Russell House, refurbish it and expand our successful Foyer service. It will provide accommodation for more young people who may be homeless and vulnerable. If the closure goes ahead, our priority will be to make sure we find our customers another home that meets their needs.

“We were originally going to speak to residents and stakeholders about the proposals in the New Year.

"But as a result of the rumours, we decided to bring the plans forward.

“We fully appreciate the disruption and worry this will cause our residents and will be on hand to support them throughout the whole process. When we’ve done this before many residents we’ve moved from older supported schemes have been happy and content with their new homes and settled in quickly.”

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