First the good news. I have found somewhere for Steven and I to live. It’s available from mid May and I can afford the rent without having to rely on Housing Benefit. It also means that Steven’s compensation money will not have to be used to pay any rent. It’s also within about 25 minutes walking distance from my work, so I will save on travelling expenses.
Thats the end of the good news. The bad news (and theres quite a bit of it) is that it’s only a studio flat. One room and a small kitchen and shower room. It boasts a dressing room but I can’t quite see where that fits in. Steven can have the bed which pulls down every night and I’ll buy a sofa bed for myself. The room is very pokey, so they’ll probably only be room for an armchair, the TV and a storage system for all Steven’s DVDs and CDs. I’ll flog my DVDs and I’ll trade in the PC for a laptop. It’s ironic because the whole flat would probably fit into one of the rooms we had at Center Parcs last week.
Goodness knows how we’ll manage with the lack of space. I think Steven will find it very difficult. He likes having his own space and that is going to be very hard. We’ll have to stop the overnight respite as well because there won’t be anywhere for the support worker to sleep. Although to be honest, as a result of the fairer charging policy, it wasn’t really worth having the respite – having one night out was costing quite a bit and that’s before I even set foot outside the door.
Hillingdon will be persuing their application to manage a private tenancy on Steven’s behalf. I had an interesting conversation with a housing lawyer, who felt it is scandalous, that someone with such high level needs as Steven is being forced into private housing, but that’s their local housing policy for you. I’m fascinated to see how they present Steven to potential private landlords in order to secure a tenancy. I guess it will be the complete opposite to 2010. Then, in order to get their way, they had to spin Steven in the worst possible light. Now, they’ll have to present him as unproblematic. It doesn’t matter; to them the spin is everything.
I think we’ve got some tough times ahead.
Update 26th March 2013:
I heard back from the landlord of the studio flat today via the estate agents. He will not be offering us the tenancy as he doesn’t think the flat is suitable for a disabled person. I don’t know whether there’s anything discriminatory there but he’s right. A studio flat is wildly unsuitable but I haven’t got much choice. That’s the third place we’ve been turned down for now – I think the council have really underestimated how difficult it is to get a privately rented property when one of the occupants is LD.
I also had an email from the council – they also think the studio flat is “unsuitable and too limited”. No shit Sherlock. They just don’t get it. We’re only in this horrible position because of their rigid interpretation of the law and their own local housing allocation policies.