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Housing Options

August 14, 2016

Four days on and I’m still reeling from the news about Steven’s housing. I haven’t told Steven yet (Can’t find the words), so goodness knows how much he’s going to reel when he finds out the latest.

You may recall that Steven had been given a direct allocation of a new build flat. On paper, it ticks all the boxes. It’s five minutes along the towpath from my flat. It’s got a great parade of shops at the top of the road with all Steven’s shopping requirements. It’s five minutes walk from Uncle Wayne’s. It won’t need an increase in the Personal Budget to cover any additional travelling costs. It won’t add anything to the support workers’ travelling time and costs. It looks ideal. We were told that the handover of keys from the property developers to the housing association happens tomorrow (15th August) and we’d be invited to a viewing some time next week. Knowing how quickly the council move after viewing I was anticipating moving in sometime early September.

Late on Wednesday afternoon I took a phone call from a Housing Association. They wanted my email address so they could send me a pre-viewing application form. It was only after I was about three minutes into the conversation that I realised we were talking at cross purposes. I assumed the woman was from the new build. It turned out that she was arranging a viewing for a property that I had bid for out of desperation about two months ago. When we were told that Steven was 34th on the list. She told me, ominously, that if I didn’t proceed with the application or the viewing  this would be seen as a rejection and would affect any future offers they make. Shit! What about the new build? I have no interest in this flat. It ticks about two of the boxes and has several major drawbacks. No immediate local shops, two buses for me to get to the flat, a more erratic bus route for the support workers, a long way from Uncle Wayne. But the machine had kicked in and the application form pinged into my in box.

The following morning I phoned the council to see where we stood. If I didn’t pursue this application would that count against Steven regarding the new build. After an hour and a half on the phone, the woman from Housing Options call centre dropped the bombshell. The new build is on hold. She cannot inform me why. They have no date for when it might be available. In the meantime, I will need to start bidding for places again as they can’t guarantee that the new build will be ready before Steven’s current house is demolished. Off the direct allocations list and back on the bidding list. I couldn’t believe my ears. The flats look ready. The carpets are laid, the white goods are installed. What could be the hold up? In the space of an hour, how can a property go from being two weeks away from being ready to move into to eight months from being ready?

I phoned the social worker and Steven’s advocate. The social worker was shocked as she hadn’t been told the news and promised to phone me back. The advocate immediately sent off an email. Later on Thursday, the social worker replied saying that the delay was unforeseen and they were hoping that things would be back on track by the end of September. However, there were no guarantees so it would be better if I started bidding again. Steven hadn’t been removed from the direct application list, so in the meantime, the council would also start looking for another place. The email ended with the classic, “You don’t want to put all your eggs in the one basket”.

Excuse me. Steven has autism. He likes and needs all his eggs in the one basket. Spreading his eggs over several baskets is likely to cause great anxiety. And hang about. Our eggs were in one basket because you produced that basket. The offer on the new build was a substantive offer. A substantive basket. The bidding process and being 42nd on the list one week, going up to 34th the next and slipping back to 37th a week later are not the kind of baskets that an autistic person is likely to be able to cope with.

I’ve talked many times about how learning disabled people are seen by services as not quite human. Their families occupy a strange space as well that is also not quite human by default. I’m not allowed to be told the reasons for the delay but the social worker and the advocate will be privy to that information. I’m not a professional from the Club, so I’m left to deal with the anxiety of that unknowing space.

In the middle of all this, as it was Thursday, the new weekly Housing Options list came out. And for the first time in four weeks, there was a property that from the sparse information you’re given looked like it might have potential. A ground floor flat, a couple of minutes walk from the new build. I told my sister about it and she sent me a photo. Although it is in a different street from her, you can see the house from her living room window. Steven and Uncle Wayne could wave to each other from their prospective porches. It has been adapted for the previous disabled tenant, so has a wet room instead of a bath and my sister reckoned it would be a tip but it can be decorated and cleaned up. It’s a possible. Not as good as the new build but a possible.

Forget the Autism Act. Forget reasonable adjustments. Forget the Care Act. Forget the MCA. When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I was planning on nipping to DFS to look at blinds and other soft furnishings for the new build. Twenty four hours later, we have three properties on the table.

And nothing certain about any of them.


Update (17.15)

I’ve just found the page on Housing Options where you can check your performance over the bids. I’ve made five bids since we knew we were going to be demolished. The vast majority of weeks don’t have any two bedroom properties to bid for. here’s how we fared with the five bids:

  1. 340 people bid. Steven came 42nd.
  2. 280 people bid. Steven came 22nd.
  3. 194 people bid. Steven came between 6th & 10th (This is the property we don’t want but we’ve been invited to view).
  4. 284 people bid. Steven came 29th.
  5. 200 People bid. This is the flat near Uncle Wayne that I bid for on Thursday. The bidding closes tomorrow.

How on earth is a person with autism and learning disabilities meant to secure housing in this system?



From → Social Care

  1. Fiona permalink

    Maybe a FOE request concerning the reason for the delay? The secrecy is ridiculous and often hides council or social service incompetence. It’s hard enough being a carer without having to put up with such sillyness.

  2. Nikki McNair permalink

    Aaaargh! I completely understand your frustration at this awful
    Situation, sadly the same things are happening everywhere and all due to complete incompetence and ignorance ( oh and all the cuts of course) its so irrotating when all the other agencies share information on your case and the same information sharing is not extended to you, however you must share every detail of yours and your sons lives with them! Have you contacted your MP about this? … Because of course you will have all the time in the world to do that as well as trying to run two lives from only one body!!! Good luck 🙂 x

    • My MP is Boris so that will be a waste of time. I think he’s only visited his constituency three times since the election last year.

  3. I’ve put you and Steven on the prayer list again!
    Are there still any workers on site? Have you a nosy friend who could go & get chatting to them? Alternatively is there a name/contact no for the developer on the site? Someone could give them a ring as a buyer looking for something in the area & wanting to know what will be happening to the flats.

  4. Utterly appalled. Sending you encouragement and strength to keep fighting and helping Steven to handle the ignorance and incompetence he has to face.

  5. handover delays can end abruptly, everyone is happy and then things move quickly. New builds with a bedroom and en-suite at the end of a corridor a little distance from the main living areas can work well as annexed support if personal space is important . If it were not too painful a conversation it would be lovely to hear Steven’s thoughts on the ‘possible’ property. The just keep bidding obligation isn’t normally an issue with so few offerings. Everything crossed for Steven to be allocated the property dearest to his heart/head choice. Health and happiness in his new home.

  6. Jayne knight permalink

    I’m reeling too
    I feel so upset about this and the joy soon changes to fear and despair. My whole joy was that this was going to happen and I know how you feel. I only know from being part of this but not the rotten despair you must be feeling. I’m alongside some lovely families who go through all of this shit and believe me I reel too at every blow, every knock back and every crass and uncaring way these people don’t get it.
    Mark we have to get it right
    I’m on holiday for the next two weeks but I won’t enjoy one minute until I know some situations are sorted.
    My holiday won’t be happy unless this situation has a resolve
    We will get the right answers this week if it takes hourly phone calls
    Just can’t comprehend how people can rest in their beds!

  7. re the update, the system stinks yes but refuse the property that Steven doesn’t want for the reasons Steven doesn’t want it and plough on. If the property close to relatives is Steven’s first choice then scream it from the rooftop, don’t lose hope. Steven is a priority.

  8. I really don’t want to write, because of privacy. But must.

    My son is moving to a property within days, that isn’t ready or right for his disability.
    He recently became blind on top of autism and learning disabilities. As if things couldn’t get worse.
    He is very aware of his surroundings, and all involved know that change is very difficult – but some of these people have chosen to sort of ignore that.

    I appreciate that the house is near to us, which is good – but it has black carpets and dark brown sofas.
    I had a ten minute visit two weeks ago and was still taking it all in, making a list of what needed adaptating or buying.
    Several features such as no grass outside is a huge unexpected problem – further sensory loss of an natural environment. He has sensory and spiritual needs, like all of us, but much more now because of blindness.

    The care provider is moving someone into his present flat within days, and somehow didn’t let me know about this until – 2 weeks ago.
    I had no idea.
    I was trying to plan properly, and am left shocked.
    All week I’m searching for artificial grass, large televisions, new furniture, lighting to enhance.
    I have a week to do this, with no input from OT or social worker.

    The social worker was not responsible, I’m told, and the OT completely missed obvious hazards and sensory needs.

    I spoke to a sight loss charity this morning, who will assess the house with me.

    I wanted to share this alongside Mark’s story.
    I keep up with these sites, and it’s the best research for any policy planners or professionals reading these blogs – we must lead the way out of this careless culture.

  9. simone aspis permalink

    Mark sadly I am not surprised – as I said in a previous posting – I wonder whether you can get your MP or councellor to ask a question on why the new build is not available for Steve – from what I could ascertain from your posting – all wagons were ready to roll – i.e. the block is ready, flats are fully furnished etc – so what could be holding up the allocation?

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