Tent couple told 'You're not homeless enough'

PUBLISHED: 10:22 27 May 2009 | UPDATED: 23:34 15 June 2010

LIVING IN A TENT: Vicky Neil and Scott Martin

LIVING IN A TENT: Vicky Neil and Scott Martin

A HONITON couple are living in a tent after finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own.

A HONITON couple are living in a tent after finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own.Vicky Neal, 25, and Scott Martin, 31, say they are trapped in a catch 22 situation - unable to afford the deposit for a private rent and not deemed a priority for council housing because they don't have children.The couple, who have lived in Honiton for nine years, have been moved on twice since setting up home in a tent, say they are heartbroken at having to part with their pet dog, Billie.They claim an East Devon District Council official told them they were "not homeless enough" to be made a priority for social housing."How much more homeless do we have to be?" Vicky, a part-time shop worker, asked the Herald.She said: "The tent is only shower proof and we got soaked during the recent bad weather."Scott and I have been together for seven years but being homeless is putting a strain on our relationship."The couple ended up on the streets after being sub-let a room in a council flat. When the tenant left, they were not allowed to stay."We applied for a crisis loan towards a tenancy deposit, but were only offered £27," said Vicky. "A bond for the deposit could be made available, but only for half the required sum." The couple said they decided to share their story with Herald readers to "show the injustice"."We think we've been sensible not to have children until we are ready," said Vicky, "but the housing system is penalising us for it."We have appealed against the council's decision not to make us a priority."Scott, who is unemployed, said: "We don't care what sort of a place we get, or what it looks like. I've got skills and could do it up. And I'm sure our friends would help."A council spokesperson said: "The council has a limited stock of housing accommodation which is already fully committed and there is a significant waiting list. We have to consider each case on its merits and, after carefully checking their circumstances, applicants are then rated according to relative need. Unfortunately, this couple's circumstances do not put them at the top of the list - in fact they are in the medium-priority Silver Band."However there are other ways we may be able to help and, only a week ago, one of our homelessness officers sat down with this couple and went through the local paper and found a suitable private let. He offered them a rent guarantee bond or a referral to SmartMove - a project helping people to get private accommodation. EDDC funds a post at SmartMove.


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