Brave cancer patient faces the prospect of sofa-surfing when she leaves hospital after housing chiefs refuse to help her

Homeless Richard and Katrina Martin.
Homeless Richard and Katrina Martin.

A woman who has just endured major surgery in her fight against cancer is facing the prospect of sofa-surfing when she is discharged from hospital.

Katrina and Richard Martin found themselves out on the streets after ill health meant they fell behind on their rent – but despite their desperate situation council chiefs are refusing to put a roof over their heads.

“I have worked all my life and fell ill and this happened,” said Richard, who was a porter at Hemel Hempstead Hospital for almost 10 years.

Brave care worker Katrina is being treated at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital following surgery to remove 80 per cent of her tongue, lymph glands in her neck and her teeth in her cancer battle.

She has undergone some reconstructive surgery and is now waiting to hear whether she will need to undero radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy as her treatment continues.

Richard, who is staying with Hemel Hempstead-based homelessness charity DENS, said: “Dacorum Borough Council have fobbed me off again, saying I need to wait for some homeless worker to call me. I have been waiting almost a week for the call. They just don’t care.”

The 43-year-had to give up his job due to ill health and recently underwent an operation to remove half of his left lung after doctors discovered a lump.

The couple had previously rented privately in the town but on their budget – Richard receives employment and support allowance and Katrina is on sick pay – this is no longer an option.

Richard, who can only get help from DENS as a single person, has done everything he can to rent a room so that the couple can be together when Katrina is discharged, but says most landlords are unwilling to take tenants relying on housing benefit.

A Dacorum Borough Council spokesman said: “We are continuing to give advice to Mr and Mrs Martin with their housing options. We are unable to comment on individual circumstances.”

The couple are currently on the council’s ‘deferred housing register’.

People are put on this register if they 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. This includes falling behind on rent.