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.
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:
- 340 people bid. Steven came 42nd.
- 280 people bid. Steven came 22nd.
- 194 people bid. Steven came between 6th & 10th (This is the property we don’t want but we’ve been invited to view).
- 284 people bid. Steven came 29th.
- 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