Rough sleeper, photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões (Creative Commons)}

Rough sleeper, photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões (Creative Commons)}   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Chas Berry, North Kent Socialist Party

The death of a homeless man, sleeping rough in the centre of Chatham for over a year, has brought calls for action over the spiralling housing crisis in Kent’s Medway towns.

Samson Paine’s body was discovered in a tent very near council offices where over 1,000 homeless applications have been received in the last year alone. Many people are asking why nothing more is being done to support some of the most vulnerable in our society, and how such tragedies can be prevented in future.

A new campaign, ‘Medway Justice for Homeless People’, is drawing together many who are angry and want change. At a meeting called by local activist Guy Jordan there was unanimous support for an enquiry into Samson’s death – but also recognition that this single tragedy highlights a bigger problem.

“Being homeless is a situation any of us could be just two steps away from,” said Guy, “and cuts to local authorities have exacerbated the situation. The people we elected have got to carry the can collectively.”

Guy’s comments go to the heart of the problem. Over many years, Medway’s Tory council has outsourced its homeless accommodation provision to private landlords and ignored its responsibilities to those most in need. Labour in opposition has been tame in holding it to account for its wilful neglect. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Continued austerity is literally killing people. The campaign already has the support of Medway Trade Union Council, and general union Unite’s Kent ‘community’ branch. Reverse all cuts – for mass building of council homes. No more deaths on our streets.

  • Please send messages of support to Guy at medwayjustice4homeless