According to council housing officials in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, no one is homeless.
Rushmoor encompasses Aldershot and Farnborough in north east Hampshire on the Surrey Hampshire border.
In Aldershot, there are two people who the OED would appear to define as homeless: Glen Carver is living in his car and has done so for the last two years, Paul Hough beds down in a car park at night and has done so for the last 18 months.
Neither have made themselves voluntarily homeless.
Glen Carver had a relationship split up and got kicked out of the family home. Paul Hough found himself out on the street when his landlord went bankrupt, his home was sold and he found himself out on the street.
Both have since found themselves in a downward spiral, as they have lost their jobs and cannot find further work as they have no address.
To most rationale thinking people, here we have two homeless guys deserving of a helping hand. But not apparently in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor. According to the Rushmoor housing department, neither men are homeless, thus are not in need of housing.
There are 3,500 people on the council housing waiting list. Most don't stand a chance of being housed.
Yes, there is a shortage of affordable housing, and that what is available is in the hands of local housing associations, thus pretty dire.
But, there are numerous properties sitting empty.
In Farnborough town centre alone, there are around a hundred two-bedroom flats sitting empty. KPI, the property developers who own these flats, have admitted these figures to be correct. Half these flats are due for demolition as part of an unwanted town centre redevelopment. For the other half, KPI claim to be doing up the flats and they will be available for rent by Christmas, but there is no sign of this.
Pavilion Housing Association have several maisonettes sitting empty at Firgrove Court. These empty properties have been deliberately trashed to make them uninhabitable. Firgrove Court is earmarked for demolition to make way for a car park for a superstore, part of the unwanted Farnborough town centre redevelopment.
In Aldershot, from the sampling of one street, dozens of Pavilion properties are sitting empty. In a recent report on Pavilion, the Audit Commission slammed Pavilion for the number of empty properties, the time the properties had been empty, the condition of these properties and the fact that Pavilion had not a clue where they were, how long they had been empty or how many were empty.
A local authority has a statutory duty to identify empty properties and bring them back onto the market. If the landlord does nothing, to serve CPOs (compulsory purchase orders) on the landlord.
The empty properties in Farnborough town centre are but a couple of minutes walk from the council offices. The head of the housing department claimed she was not aware there were any empty properties. Told to bring them back into use, she has refused, claiming the landlord was doing them up for sale. This was news to the landlord.
No one is surprised. The same head of housing falls over backwards to never take enforcement action against private landlords for their slum dwellings, falls over backwards to praise Pavilion and other RSLs for being top quality landlords. Not a view of their tenants, and in the case of Pavilion, not the view of the Audit Commission.
If the head of housing put as much effort into serving the community as she does into manufacturing pathetic excuses for doing nothing, a few less fortunate souls may have their lives improved, instead they are kicked in the teeth every time they dare raise their heads above the parapet.
And what of the local politicians? If the Farnborough LibDems are anything to go by, a useless bunch of tossers. At a recent party gathering, the LibDem leader fell over backwards to find excuses why Pavilion should not carry out repairs, and to praise Pavilion who he felt had a hard job to do. Earlier in the day, he had been stabbing one of his own councillors in the back, the only councillor who does anything for the local community, by having a private meeting with a low ranking Pavilion official and backing that official over not carrying out repairs requested by the one active councillor.
The Farnborough LibDems are entirely dependent on Pavilion tenants to get elected. If only the tenants knew how ill-served they are, the LibDems would be unelectable.
We have in Rushmoor, tenants whose lives are blighted by their landlords, to which the council turns a blind eye, homeless people who are in urgent need of housing, who the council refuse to recognise.
All this in one of the most affluent parts of the country.
Dad forced to live in car while waiting for housing, Farnborough News, 6 August 2004
Living in a car park is not homeless enough, Aldershot Mail, 17 August 2004
Keith Parkins, Town & Out II, Corporate Watch, 14 January 2004
Keith Parkins, Sell out of Farnborough town centre, Indymedia UK, 5 June 2004
Keith Parkins, Delivering the final death blow to Farnborough town centre, Indymedia UK, 2 July 2004
Keith Parkins, Audit Commission savage Pavilion Housing Association, Indymedia UK, 27 July 2004
Keith Parkins, Social housing under attack, Indymedia UK, 5 August 2004
Keith Parkins, Social housing crisis, Indymedia UK, 12 August 2004
Keith Parkins, Privatisation of council housing, Indymedia UK, 16 August 2004
Natasha Rawlingson Plant, Dad forced to live in his car, Aldershot News, 6 August 2004
Plight of the father living in a car park, Farnborough Mail, 17 August 2004