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'We weren't Scrooges over housing'

A HOUSING association has hit back at claims it was heartless and left a homeless mother of three to sleep in a freezing cold garage over Christmas.

Sheriena Cooper had to leave her home in Weir Road, Hartley Wintney, after a chip pan fire made it uninhabitable.

Mrs Cooper, who has three children aged four, five and seven, stayed at a friend’s house the night after the fire and, apart from staying at a relative’s home on Christmas Day, says she has spent the whole time in the freezing cold garage.

After the fire on December 18, 30-year-old Mrs Cooper went to Hart Housing Association in Fleet.

She was offered bed and breakfast accommodation in Ash Vale but said she could not take it because it was not big enough and her children had already been through enough because of her divorce.

Mrs Cooper said the housing association told her that was all that was available but she knew of two houses close to her in Weir Road and Mitchell Avenue that were empty.

But Hart Housing Association has issued a statement saying it did everything possible to help Mrs Cooper.

“We have excellent staff managing the homeless service and were able to arrange immediate temporary accommodation in a bed and breakfast room of suitable size and facilities, which Mrs Cooper declined.

“We sympathise with her situation and to this end our staff did everything they could to help by collecting clothes, bedding, a food hamper and Christmas presents from the local community centre and delivering these to her.

“We also arranged with the landlord of the bed and breakfast to collect her, her family and their belongings and transport them to the bed and breakfast, which she declined.

“We currently have more than 100 homeless people in temporary accommodation in the Hart area, all waiting to be housed.

“The two empty properties Mrs Cooper referred to, Weir Road and Mitchell Avenue, have been allocated to people already on the waiting list and are currently having refur-bishment work carried out to them.

“We will be reviewing Mrs Cooper’s housing application in light of recent develop-ments.”

Mrs Cooper said: “All I want is somewhere safe to stay with my three children.

“I can’t keep warm — I am just shivering all the time.”

Mrs Cooper is having to make do with a double mattress, a cushion, a single sleeping bag, three blankets and a torch.


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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