What Does It Take To Become A Housing Priority In Britain Today?
I ask this is the nicest possible way. I have been trying to navigate the ‘system’ for several weeks, now. As readers of this blog know, I took in a homeless friend at the end of January. I said he could stay on my sofa, as he would have been on the streets and was suicidal. I can’t think of a single person I know in my (rather large) circle of friends and acquaintances who would have let this vulnerable man end up on the streets. I offered my sofa and I put the wheels in motion to get him a support worker. I found the agencies he needed to contact to be housed. I even sat at his side in the doctor’s surgery.
Fast forward two months, and nothing has changed except for my own mental health, which is now seriously in decline. I am trying to cope, and I think I am failing. You see, my friend, alone, broke, suicidal, homeless, is not a priority to be housed. My future, right now, is a terrifying (to me) picture of never having my house my own again.
The Council see their duty of care as being discharged, because the man is on my sofa and is therefore ‘not homeless’. They have said to try and get a bond for a deposit for a private landlord. That’s wonderful, but when someone is on ESA, which he is, how is he meant to scrape together the ridiculously expensive Admin Fees for a letting agent? He doesn’t have £20 spare, let alone £150. I am feeding him from my own family budget and have been for the eight weeks his Benefit Claim has taken to be assessed. Yet the council think he can pay admin costs for a landlord who will ask for £400 a month for a bedsit.
The doctor has referred him to a mental health support group. He is helping him with his depression. He cannot, however, get this man housed by an indifferent council. He is not coming out of jail, nor is he coming out of the ‘Care System’ so is not a priority.
He’s simply homeless and flat broke after falling through the cracks of care for twenty-five years.
I need to make it clear: I have no issue with him being housed in the private sector. I simply fail to understand how he is meant to get the cost of the fees together to pay for the privilege of being housed. As it stands, he will need about £800 before I get my house back.
My work is suffering. My mind feels as though it is fracturing. The ever helpful council have said they will ‘see what they can do’. What they can do, thank you, is house him. Naive, maybe, but I thought he would be helped and housed by now. I have known people housed within a couple of weeks and I really want to know how they managed it. Likely by spells and magic, chanting something while standing on one leg in the light of a full moon, while the stars are in Taurus and a nightingale sings. I don’t know any more.
All I know is I cannot carry on like this and nor can my friend. It is as though we are trapped in Limbo, unable to move on or to work toward a future. If you have the answers I am searching for, please tell me. If you know any landlords willing to take Housing Benefit without extortionate admin charges through a letting agency, then please tell me.
Kathleen Kerridge is an author of fantasy fiction. Her books are available on Amazon HERE.
7 thoughts on “What Do You Need To Do To Be Housed?”
It may be worthwhile enquiring if you and your family are now officially over crowded by having your friend staying. Also if he is a care leaver then he may be entitled to extra help. Have you spoken to Shelter they might be able to help with his case. Also there is a book in every library that lists all the grants etc that are given out. One of them might be able to help towards the deposit. Don’t despair things will get better.
I have the same troubles housing my clients.
My advice is to search through places like gum tree, social media selling groups, shop windows and notice boards as well as classified ads. There are also websites like spareroom.com, roomate, and flatbuddies that advertise rooms. Often these adverts are from private landlords who self manage and do not use an agent which means there aren’t usually any no admin fees to pay other than the rent in advance.
Some councils can award loans through their homeless prevention loans budget, but not all councils have these so can be a bit hit and miss. Some of their bond schemes can offer rent in advance as well as a bond for the deposit.
Depending on your friends circumstances he may be able to get some funding from various charities. For example, ex servicemen can often obtain funding from the British Legion. Crisis should be able to tell you more about private rented access schemes in your area.
In the meantime your friend should still be able to join the council’s housing register, it’s obviously not as quick as the homeless route but still worth trying.
Hope you get sorted soon.
LikeLiked by 1 person
If you give him a letter to take to the council with the date he can no longer live with you they might do something quicker. It works in Scotland.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Try https://www.makeurmove.co.uk/ as this avoids the hassle of the high street estate agents. In terms of grants/sources of funding see if a third party such as doctor etc can apply to the Vicars Relief Fund run by St Martins in the Field, London. Also have a look at http://www.turn2us.org.uk/
Have you tried CAB for help with getting the ESA claim speeded up and with help and advice about the housing problem? They also have a list of other agencies which can give more specialist advice. Shelter is also good.
My mother had this situation a few years ago with a relative she took in as a desperate measure. She sought advice (from a lawyer specialising in housing, I think); he told her to evict her relative, as a means to an end. The relative was fine about this; there was no animosity because she knew this was just the procedure they had to go through for her to get housed. I think my mother also got a letter from her GP stating that her own mental health was declining because of the situation, though if I remember correctly she didn’t have to produce that. Anyway the relative was given temporary housing a couple of days before the eviction date, and a housing association flat about a year later. She is elderly… well, mid-60’s, which probably helped.
I have no idea if this method is still an option these days. And it did cost her money to evict, not sure how much.
I agree with the previous poster, Stacy. Myself, my sister and my dad were living with my grandparents, and having them write a letter that they were essentially going to kick us out on such-and-such a date meant we were placed at the top of the waiting list (we still had to wait, but they provided us with shelter accommodations while we waited).
Good luck to your friend, I know it is much more difficult to get the wheels in motion if you do not have dependents, but hopefully something will work out.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Comments are closed.