A couple who found themselves out on the streets after they were unable to pay their rent due to ill health say things are finally looking up.
Richard Martin was forced to give up his job of 10 years as a hospital porter after being struck down with a serious respiratory condition, which led to half of his left lung being removed by doctors.
It meant he and wife Katrina fell behind on bills at their privately rented home and had to move out. Shortly afterwards - with Richard living at homeless shelter DENS and his wife sofa surfing - Katrina was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
Despite their plight Dacorum Borough Council refused to put a permanent roof over the couple’s heads and instead put them on their deferred housing register.
This is for people who are deemed not to have a local connection - Richard has lived in Hemel Hempstead for most of his life - are not classed as in need of priority housing or have made themselves intentionally homeless, which includes falling behind on rent.
But now thanks to help from homelessness charity DENS and Dacorum Rent Aid Richard has secured a double bedroom in a shared house.
“It’s good news now, we are on the way up,” said the 43 year old.
Brave Katrina, who is staying with family, underwent surgery before Christmas, which involved removing 80 per cent of her tongue, lymph glands in her neck and her teeth as well as further reconstructive surgery, is now facing six weeks of intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Richard, who recently passed a medical lung function test and has now started looking for a new job, said: “She is doing really well. She is starting to put weight on and she is going to physiotherapy.”
Once Katrina is well enough she will be able to spend weekends with Richard at the shared house and they’re hoping to soon be taken off the council’s deferred register, so that they can begin bidding for homes in the Hemel Hempstead area.