Sunday, 19 October 2008

HOUSING FOR ALL - speech in Canterbury

CANTERBURY DISTRICT PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 19th October 2008 – Pine Tree Hollow, Selling Court, Selling, nr Faversham ME13 9RJ - 0845 257 4236 – 01732 355185 – 07747 014487


Professor Tim Valentine spoke on housing as part of events highlighting homelessness in the Canterbury district, held at the University of Kent. The Green Party believes that housing is an entitlement for all. Kent has over 18,000 empty homes and about 6,000 commercial buildings which could and should be used for housing. Tim Valentine said:
“Homelessness is clearly just one part of the problems the homeless may have. Many homeless people are afflicted by mental health problems, drink-drug problems, constraints upon employment or credit as a result of being an ex-offender. Up to 9 out of every 10 homeless people have a problem in addition to their homelessness.
“Canterbury's large pedestrianised shopping area and concentration of agencies dealing with homelessness both play a part in attracting homeless people to the City. Despite valiant efforts made by a variety of agencies and by Canterbury City Council, homelessness is still visibly present in the City. The Green Party regrets that Canterbury City Council has chosen to reduce its support to the Scrine Foundation recently, despite its major contribution to assisting and housing homeless people.
“Homelessness is not just about having a roof over your head. Poor quality, damp, drafty and insecure housing is a hidden form of homelessness which Canterbury has since many private rental properties are not maintained to an adequate standard. The City Council knows this from its own surveys.
“Kent Green Party supports 50% of all new homes being social housing. At present, developers try to build in small phases of less than 15 units to try to avoid providing social housing. This is to address the backlog of housing demand represented by council waiting lists and the homeless.
“In addition, we believe that the Housing Corporation, which funds Housing Associations, should provide funds for Councils to buy properties in the normal housing market for use as social housing. Refurbishing a property to high energy efficiency standards and adding a least solar water heating and a solar panel could cost as little as £6000-£12000 a property. However, new build - new Council housing - can cost well over £100,000 per unit.
“Canterbury's very successful Universities - Kent, Canterbury Christchurch and the University of the Creative Arts - have contributed to the City's housing problems by raising house prices and using up flats and housing within the City. These institutions must provide more purpose-built student housing on their existing sites to reduce the housing impact of their continuing expansion.”

FURTHER INFORMATION: Steve Dawe, Press Officer – KENT GREEN PARTY – 01732 355185, 0845 257 4236 or mobile: 07747 036192.

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