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The Human Side of Housing Processes

July 31, 2013

Steven was awake at 4am this morning, having a full scale meltdown. Crying. Trying to rip his duvet. Pleading for reassurance to the question – “Don’t want new Uxbridge house people keep all Steven Neary’s CDs”. It lasted until 5.30am.

The cat is out of the bag now. I’m struggling enough to contain my anxiety but now that Steven knows we’ve got to move soon, his anxiety has kicked in big time. The day before last, the doorbell went at 8.30 in the evening and it was the new tenants wanting to measure up for curtains. They were excited, full of questions and oblivious to the distress they were causing Steven. I sent them away but it was too late.

15 days to go.

When I sat in the housing benefit office 330 days ago and was delivered the bad news about them stopping my benefit, I never dreamed that we would still be in a terrible state of limbo with 15 days to go before the tenancy ends.

As usual, everything is a process. And they will argue that they have followed due process all the way through. I’m not so sure.

Last week I got an email from the housing manager that stated: “I am hoping to give you an update by the middle of next week”. Hoping? Update? Middle of next week? It couldn’t be more vague if it tried. And it’s now the middle of next week and no update has arrived. But perhaps that was never the point. Perhaps we haven’t suffered enough yet.

It’s funny how all those old wounds that I thought I’d tended to, can suddenly resurface. When we moved into this flat in 2009, the gas board came and condemned the cooker. It took the landlady a month to buy a new one. During this month, the old, “theres always something or other with Mr Neary, social worker turned up for a visit. She put on her serious face and said she was very concerned that Steven was having to have takeaways most nights. There was a threat in there.

Face forward 4 years and the same thing is happening. Even if the council find us somewhere, it will be too late to get the kitchen equipment delivered before we the move. Stupidly, I keep picking the 2009 scab and worry about how the lack of a cooker and fridge will be seen by the professionals. It’s completely irrational but it’s the sort of bollocks that has led to me having on average 4 hours sleep a night for the past two weeks.

Steven keeps wanting to put things in boxes. Yesterday, he finished watching his set of Gladiators videos and went off looking for a box to put it in. Scared shitless that it will be left behind or someone might claim it as fixtures and fittings.

15 days to go. How much more anxiety can be cranked up in that time.

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From → Social Care

13 Comments
  1. Emily permalink

    My heart goes out to you. I am following your blog religiously and am so upset and angered by the obstacles you keep coming against. As you say total BS! Keep strong for Steven.

  2. Nichola permalink

    It reminds me of something a woman at a centre for independent living once said to me when I dissolved into wracking sobs of despair – the authorities push families to breaking point. Apart from the insensitive and hard-nosed attitude of the owner of your flat, it is infuriating and saddening that these bastards who are employed to provide a service treat the people as incidental. Do they read your blog, these people? If they do, they don’t have a heart.

  3. Denise Chaplin permalink

    what if anything are your local councillors or mp doing?

  4. Weary Mother permalink

    My learning disabled son lives with his learning disabled wife in a housing association flat. The drug dealers upstairs, who burgled their flat the year before, set fire to their own flat because they had had their child taken into care. This upstairs flat was then open to the elements for months. My son’s father asked the HA that the water be turned off as winter was in the offing. They did not turn the water off. The drug users in the flat opposite the burned out flat broke into the burned out flat and stole all the piping. They flooded my son’s flat and ruined their possessions. I arrived at the flat to find two soaking wet vulnerable people sitting in the dark as the meter had exploded, water pouring in. The first housing association manager I spoke to told me that the tenant, my son, had to dry the flat out and put this damage right, and do his own decorating for the HA only did external work. It seemed to take a huge amount of effort, and the involvement of a charity, before another lovely manager from this LA disagreed with the first manager. She was excellent as was the employee who liased with us over the repairs. But we elderly parents had to be responsible for all the negotiations with the HA. My son could never have managed ;firstly with the efforts that were needed to change the LA’s first decision, and subsequently with ensuring that the flat was dried out and redecorated. It was a hideous time My son his wife lived with me for weeks while the flat was dried out etc.

  5. Reblogged this on Benefit tales.

  6. Sally permalink

    Hold on. You are not imagining things, they are avcting like bastards, its what Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil”.Because there are forms involved, they feel they aren’t doing anythimg wrong. I know damn well that if you were difficult you’d get more help, but we fellow parents of the autistic also know you are frightened that you’ll be judged and god forbid seen as a lesser parent.
    When you are dealing with all this its so hard to make a single phone call, but if your MP/Private Eye were told..You can certainly ask for more than “soon”.What exactly, if anything, is being waited for “soon”?
    When they are confronted about this I bet they’ll say that lessons will be learned/only have your best interests at heart blah blah!

    We are all cheering for you!

  7. I ache for you. We have our own major problems because of what this coalition is doing but your situation breaks my heart. I wish you strength and courage and fortitude. Please take care. I will be thinking of you.

  8. Tina B permalink

    I wish you and Steven good luck x My autistic/intellectually disabled son is now 18. I am a single mother in Australia and have 3 other children at home, including one with a life threatening condition. We do not qualify for government housing (which is subsidised) because I work fulltime. (to pay our many bills) But my wage is so low that my only option is to rent a house privately and every day is a struggle due to the huge amounts people in Western Australia have to pay in private rent. We are caught in a trap and I just wish that I knew a way out of it for me and my children to guarantee housing safety for our future:(

  9. Mirarah2 permalink

    I cannot believe anyone could be so cruel as to do this to you…Just wish I had the room to have you both to stay. I thought I had it fairly rough (I’m disabled and in a w/chair) but I have NEVER been forced into a situation like yours. Is there anyone we can petition on your behalf?
    Meanwhile, hang on in there – you are doing a fantastic job.

  10. Liz. permalink

    I don’t understand how this can be done to you. My daughter is not autistic, but panics at the prospect of change unless it is carefully planned and explained – I can’t imagine having to deal with something as terrifying as this. I sincerely hope that you are found somewhere decent – and secure – so that you can both have some peace. Appalling!

  11. Cathy B permalink

    I’ve worked in Benefits, Social Services and the NHS. I recognize your awful situation – from both sides of the fence now I’m disabled myself. The fault lies with the system and ultimately the politicians who think complex, inflexible, ‘cost-cutting’ processes are appropriate. Many times myself and my colleagues were hugely distressed by what we had to do and the affect on our clients. In my group of six workers, five of us had breakdowns. This doesn’t mitigate the emotional and mental torture you and your son are being put through. It is all wrong and inhumane.

    I applaud your stalwart efforts. You are helping all of us too by your continuing fight and taking the time to document your experiences. Thank you. I wish you and your son a positive outcome.

  12. This is dreadful. Many people are witnessing this by way of your blog. I hope the authorities know this. Shame on them.

  13. sparrow permalink

    Hi Mark – I haven’t been in the position you are with housing + I hope things have improved since your post. If that sounds naive, then apologies. I have been in the position numerous times of having little sleep + picking over scabs. My son is an autistic adult. The terrible things that happen cannot leave us. They sensitise us so that we’re rather like autistic people in that respect. It’s so easy for someone in power to wreak havoc with another (powerless) person’s life, either in ignorance or deliberately. I sincerely feel for you + Steven. This could all have been avoided with a bit of humanity from the authorities. We can get pushed to the limit. I wish you both the best

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