‘We have a housing crisis in Mid Sussex’ said county councillor Anne Jones while sitting next to a disabled Burgess Hill woman who faces homelessness.
The councillor has been helping Sharon Treacle find a new home after she was served an eviction notice from her landlord.
At the moment she lives with her husband in a bungalow in Gloucester Road, Burgess Hill, which she says is fit for purpose and just around the corner from her daughter.
But the couple, who are now on the housing register, fear they will be homeless due to an ever-growing housing waiting list in the district.
Mrs Jones (Con, Burgess Hill East) said: “The situation is we have a lady here who has severe disabilities, who is struggling to find a new home, and I didn’t know how hard it was for somebody who is in such poor health to be re-housed in the 21st century.
“We have a housing crisis in Mid Sussex and across the country and this has really brought home to me how hard it is for our most vulnerable people to have a roof over their heads.
“It is a crisis – why should someone wiith all these disabilities not be given housing? You shouldn’t have to fight for it in the 21st century.
“We are supposed to be building homes suitable for people with disabilities and of all ages.
“I am not knocking the district council, they are in a situation – they can’t just provide houses out of thin air and the houses that they are offering are not fit for purpose.”
Sharon suffered an injury while working as a nurse for vulnerable people and says she has been left unable to work due to permanent nerve damage on her left side. Her husband, Peter, is her full-time carer.
She said: “I feel let down and I have got no hope. It doesn’t seem like there is any light at the end of the tunnel.
“All the council have been able to offer us is a hostel in Seven Dials, Brighton, and a guest house in Crawley. None of the options the council have given me are suitable. It means I am homeless.”
The 53-year-old, who has also gone through three family bereavements this year, said her situation has pushed her to the brink of suicide.
“I have never felt so low,” she said, adding: “I live in constant pain but I know I have to keep going.
“At the end of the day if you are disabled it is worse – we are limited as there is such a small percentage of properties to look at.”
Sharon’s husband, Peter, who gave up his job as a test and commissioning engineer on the railway to look after Sharon, said he was concerned about her health.
“She has been through a hell of a lot,” he said.
“Losing her mother and sister and on top of that getting this eviction notice. It has put a mental strain on her health.
“She is just getting more and more down. I have been trying to keep positive for her as if you don’t things will get worse – we have got to keep fighting.”
Demand 'extremely high'
Councillor Andrew MacNaughton, MSDC cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “We cannot comment on individual cases but when someone is threatened with homelessness we do everything we can to help them find alternative accommodation that meets their needs.
“Unfortunately, there is a shortage of affordable housing available in Mid Sussex, both in the private rented and social sector.
“It’s not always possible to find someone a suitable alternative straight away, which means some households are offered temporary accommodation while we look for a permanent home that will meet their needs in the long-term.
“The council has been working hard over the past 12 months to purchase a number of local properties so that we can increase the amount of temporary emergency accommodation we have in Mid Sussex.
“Unfortunately, demand remains extremely high, which means sometimes we have no choice but to offer households temporary accommodation outside of Mid Sussex when there is no alternative available within the district.”