Joy for homeless family

AFTER months of sofa-hopping, sleeping in caravans and viewing hundreds of properties, Brian and Tracy Heppell and their five children today have the key of the door at last.

AFTER months of sofa-hopping, sleeping in caravans and viewing hundreds of properties, Brian and Tracy Heppell and their five children today have the key of the door at last.

The family are celebrating having a place of their own after seeing more than 524 properties – most too small or landlords would not have them as tenants – and applying unsuccessfully for 62.

Beaming daughter Kelly couldn't keep the smile off her face as she hugged a charity worker who helped them find their new home in Felixstowe and said, "This is my best birthday present ever!"

The couple faced a nightmare search for a home after being evicted when a landlord wanted his property empty.


You may also want to watch:


Their biggest problems were that landlords did not want to deal with families on benefits, and finding a house for rent which was large enough for their needs.

With no bed and breakfast accommodation available or houses, the family were forced to stay in caravans – first their own small van – and later one at Felixstowe, five nights in a minibus, and lots of sofa-hopping at friends' homes.

Most Read

But thanks to the charity CHAG (Coastal Homeless Action Group) they have now found a six-bedroom house at the resort and their rent is guaranteed.

The charity succeeded where the councils failed, finding the family the house and agreeing with the landlord to be the tenant, then sub-letting to the Heppells.

This means that CHAG take full financial responsibility for the lease, including putting up £1,600 in this case as part of the advance and as a rent guarantee, which reassures the landlord. Social services also matched the rent commitment.

"We can't thank CHAG enough – they have been fantastic," said Mr Heppell, 43.

"They have supported us all the way through, helped us every step of the way and we are just so thrilled to have a place of our own."

Mrs Heppell, 34, added: "The house is wonderful and just what we needed and we can't wait to settle in and get the children settled into schools."

The couple and their children, Kelly, 15, Katie, 13, Tony, 12, Cody, ten, and Toby, seven, just had one last minute hitch – waiting for the bill to be paid so their furniture could be released from storage.

Estate agent Richard Cobb said it was CHAG's involvement which had secured the property.

"Landlords are very wary of people who are part of the benefits system. Because CHAG takes on the lease and all the financial risk, I am able to explain to the landlord that that there will be no problem," he said.

Helen Jones, support team leader with CHAG, said: "This is an excellent example showing how we are working in the community to help those with housing problems, doing things the authorities cannot do. Our support for this family will continue and we will work closely with them."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus