Skip to content

Housing Update (Episode 1333)

August 20, 2016

Some big but unsettling news in the long running Steven’s housing application saga.

No news at all about the new build flat that he was given a direct allocation for. The handover from property developers to the council is still on hold and no new date has been fixed for the foreseeable future.

The house that I bid for last week (the one where Steven and Uncle Wayne can wave at each other from their porches) is a non starter. Steven came 18th on the bidding list.

Thursday evening a chap turned up from the council’s “Verification Team”. He explained that he needed to complete a verification form that included details of all Steven’s and my income and savings. He said that it was urgent and he needed to get it written up and handed in by Monday morning.

He came back yesterday morning and we got down to business. As an interesting sideline, I find it fascinating when professionals seem totally thrown by sings that Steven and I might life a normal life just like them. As often happens with visitors to our house, the verification officer jumped out of his skin when he saw the Mr Bean cardboard cut out in the corner of the living room. That led to a chat about Mr Bean and the council official admitted that Bean was his favourite comedy character. Strangely, he didn’t converse with Steven on the topic – it was all addressed to me. later, when we came on to the bit about my income, he asked me about my counselling training and seemed very shocked that I trained at Thames Valley University. Why is this odd? Aren’t parents of people with learning disabilities meant to be counsellors? Is university beyond us? I don’t get it. I think that to professionals who see learning disabled people as not quite human, their families go into a not as human as us space too.

Later that afternoon, I took a phone call from a woman at the Housing Association. She invited me to a viewing of the property I bid for weeks ago, a couple of weeks before the direct allocation of the new build. This explained why the verification officer said it was so urgent. She wanted me to go on Tuesday afternoon but I don’t have cover for Steven, so had to decline. She got back to me immediately and offered a viewing on Thursday morning. I accepted and apologised in case I was holding up the other bidders.

It was then she dropped her bombshell – “You’re not holding anyone up. Steven is number one on the list. If you want it, it’s yours”.

This may sound terribly ungrateful but I’m not sure I do want it. The new build ticks all the boxes both internally and location wise. This house may be lovely inside but it has several negatives about its location. I worry that someone who doesn’t know about autism may dismiss my concerns as piddling but they’re important to Steven.

Ideally, I’d like to hang fire for the new build. Steven has been allocated a flat there, so now it is just a waiting game. Trouble is, the council can’t confirm whether it will be ready before the demolition. I know that is still seven months away but they can’t/won’t make that commitment.

So, I’ll go and view the other place. It may be a palace. So much so, that it may be worth compromising on all the things that the location lacks. But I know which one Steven would prefer.

Why can’t learning disabled people be allowed to chose where they want to live? Why is their criteria so easily dismissed by the professionals?

Instead of choosing a home, he will be given a placement.



From → Social Care

  1. I smell a rat. A large, verminous and shit-coated rat. Far too convenient that Steven has suddenly vaulted up the list like this, just in time to divert him permanently from the new-build.

    A hundred pounds to a few measly pence says someone, somewhere, has decided that Steven – not just one of those bloody disableds, but a bloody disabled who was the occasion of the Council getting a spectacularly public black eye – doesn’t merit a flat in a lovely, well-situated, brand-new block. I’d venture a further punt that the said somebody has pulled a few strings to shuffle him off quickly into Maison Back-of-Beyond, while his direct-allocation flat goes next month to a ‘fully human’ being. And I’d lay my last ha’penny that Thursday’s property, in addition to its other drawbacks, will be anything but a palace.

  2. Steven can decline the property , if the location threatens Steven’s existing wider support network and or if the property in any way is unsuitable for reasons you will be aware of that relate to Steven’s needs. The new build will ready sooner rather than later. Hold tight, Steven has a direct allocation. There is no obligation to accept an unsuitable property that would deprive Steven of wellbeing in his day to day living. Examine the built environment externally and internally and you shouldn’t be pressured to give a response re acceptance without time for discussion with Steven. Best wishes for the viewing.

    • discussing refusal of unsuitable offers with a legal adviser shouldn’t be necessary given the council’s obligation to only offer wholly suitable properties to Steven given that he is under threat of homelessness, but if you happened to know anyone with expertise ?

    • Thanks Nic, this is really helpful.

      We’re still at the Education stage rather than Housing, so while this seemed all wrong, I wouldn’t have the knowledge to say, ‘you absolutely don’t have to put up with this’, as I would with SEN matters.

      However, the tactics look unpleasantly familiar: follow ‘policy’ and expediency rather than the law; and where it suits the Authority’s purposes, use misinformation and unspecified menaces to bounce people out of their rightful entitlements. Grim.

  3. I think a choice of council property sounds better than my private sector experience, in that they might negotiate with you.
    We had no offer, involvement, no discussion even when the house was chosen by others who didn’t assess anything competently – which I’d never do to anyone else.
    Isn’t moving house a major life event – so why make it so painful for an innocent person?
    I’d get the best choice if I had a choice. At least Steven will be happier with knowing. I know my son won’t know anything. It’s your chance to get it as right as possible.
    And people with LD and families aren’t lesser people, referring to your last article. Autism if you have that is a unique kind of intelligence – as Temple Grandin says people with autism have invented so much – others would still be sitting in caves without their intelligence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: