A hidden problem: the lack of social housing in Epsom and Ewell
The chronic lack of social housing in Epsom and Ewell is a major worry for its many homeless families many of whom are forced to accept temporary housing elsewhere.
Figures released by the charity Shelter last week showed the number of homeless households in emergency Bed and Breakfast (B&B) accommodation nationally is at its highest for almost a decade.
With more and more people having to go to the council for help with housing, reporter Hardeep Matharu examines the harsh realities for families who have nowhere else to go.
Sarah Millgate contacted the Epsom Guardian after the council said her family of five would have to move out of the borough and into a B&B in Croydon.
The 27-year-old, who suffers with severe post-natal depression and whose mother died in April, said she was "at my wit’s end" after being told the family would be evicted from their privately-rented flat in January.
The council had paid the deposit on the temporary flat, in Ewell Village, in 2008, but when their landlord decided to move abroad, the family was told they would have to move to Croydon.
The family are still living in the borough, in another flat with a council-paid deposit, but said it is struggling.
The mother-of-three said: "It would have been dangerous not to have the support around me. "We are still in the borough, but paying an extra £500 a month to stay here compared to the rent we were paying before. But we have no choice.
"We have to keep our children in their schools and I need the support network I have here."
Michael Barrett, 27, and his partner Hannah Fleming, 21, moved into a B&B in Brighton Road, Horley, in December last year, after finding themselves homeless in Epsom.
Michael Barrett and Hannah Fleming
But Mr Barrett, who takes medication for depression, said the couple, who were expecting a baby at the time they moved in, will soon find themselves back on the streets after the council told them, on June 11, that they must leave the accommodation within 28 days.
He said: "Everything has been fine in the B&B, but then my girlfriend miscarried our baby and we have been told that we are not now a priority case.
"There might not be enough accommodation but they should not just kick us out on the street."
A council spokesman said enquiries are made as to whether a household is considered to be a priority and, even if they are considered not to be, it has a duty to provide advice and assistance.
Why are people moved out of the borough?
A council spokesman said there is not enough social housing in the borough and B&Bs are used as a last resort. The homeless are moved to areas such as Croydon because few B&Bs or hotels within the borough are willing to take homeless households.
He said the council appreciated moving out of the borough causes difficulties and aims to "priorities anyone with special support needs". To assist households with mental health and support needs it operates a special needs housing and support register, takes referrals from social workers and has a rent deposit scheme.
Councillor Neil Dallen, chairman of the strategy and resources committee, said social housing is a "top priority".
He said: "Sending households out of the borough is unsettling, especially for children. We don’t want to do it, but have no choice.
"We have a policy in place which stipulates that, given the opportunity to develop anything we own, we will use it for social housing. "Four houses at the back of the High Street are being put back into use, there is the station development and also development in Ruxley Lane. "Things are coming through, but they will be here in the next one to two years, not tomorrow."