Yesterday, I had the latest meeting with Hillingdon housing department and much to my surprise, it looks like our housing problem that began last September, has finally been resolved.
The council now accept that as from 16th August we will be homeless and they will be offering Steven a social housing tenancy from that date. It will be temporary accommodation to begin with but they promised that it would not be bed and breakfast; it will be a two bedroom property to accommodate Steven and his live in carer. I was informed that the wait for a permanent property could be anything up to 3 years but as Steven’s social worker pointed out, if he has to wait that long, it would probably be better for Steven as he needs to feel settled.
Steven’s social worker attended the meeting and played a blinder. I follow lots of social workers on Twitter and hear them talking about being advocates for their clients, but until yesterday I had never experienced it first hand before. After our experience with Mrs Narcissus in 2010, it was like a blast of fresh, clean air.
The housing officer informed me that they have already been looking for suitable places and I’ve given them quite a wide area to consider from. In an ideal world, Steven would be found a place close to my sister’s house, so he could have increased contact with his extended family. And it would widen my “circle of support” as well.
A move within the borough would definitely be in Steven’s best interests. It involves the least change. He will still have me around. He will still have the same support staff and he can still go to all the places that he currently goes to during the week. Social housing obviously give him long term security, which a private tenancy never could. And although the tenancy will be in Steven’s name, I will be able to afford the rent, so his compensation will remain intact. I can’t really see any downside for Steven.
Today, I notified my landlady that I won’t be renewing the tenancy in August, so the contract will just end – there will be no need to go through a stressful eviction process.
I’ve also decided to not withdraw my housing benefit appeal. Steven’s future accommodation will be a fait accompli by the time the appeal is heard and even if I win the appeal, the outcome will be academic. It will still be good to know if the tribunal decides in my favour or against. If I win, Hillingdon will owe me a lot of back pay which I can put to furnishing Steven’s new home. Also, I expect to get my deposit back from the landlady, so that can go in the same pot. With any luck, I’ll be able to fully furnish Steven’s new home with minimal drawing from his damages. In any event, he has the money so I’m confident of making him a good home.
I’ve had a strange mixture of elation and sadness today. The elation is obvious – after nine months of unbearable stress, the matter is now resolved. The sadness is harder to pin down. I guess it’s because, absent in all of these plans, is me. I’m Steven’s “live in carer” – I’ve been professionalised. I’m 54 and I have nothing that’s mine and the dreams that I had about moving away will be packed away at the back of one of the new wardrobes.
But the important thing is that Steven’s future and security is sorted and that has to be a cause for celebration.