Health and politics, hope, Housing, left, Mama mifsud blog, Politics

Housing, homelessness and the crisis on our hands.

Currently you are not eligible for any properties.

That’s the message I have seen every Saturday, for the last 208 weeks.

We ended up in our housing predicament, four years ago, having moved five times in four years. Three of those houses became student lets for a significantly higher profit, and two were sold on, at the height of the recession. In no contract did we break the terms; we’ve always been known as a good family, that treat our rented accomodation as our home, and look after it accordingly.

In no way were we responsible for ending up homeless.

I find it rather ironic that we have been more secure in our homeless state than in the previous five years. We are one of the really lucky ones that ended up in temporary accomodation, in a lovely little community where our neighbours are predominantly wonderful people.

That’s the first misconception blown. We moved to a council estate and felt a bigger sense of community and respect that anywhere else we have lived.

The journey to that day was pretty horrific though. We simply couldn’t afford to move again, and no one takes housing benefit these days.

We were royally screwed.

Five days before we were due to be evicted, we still had nowhere to go. Our storage container was booked, and our van packed up with sleeping bags and essentials. We were incredibly lucky to have four weeks worth of friends lounges to commandeer, and had prepared the kids for being nomadic.

I don’t think i had ever felt like such a failure as a parent.

We received the call a day later that we were to meet a council worker at this house we now call home, and were flung a set of keys and a primitive contract upon arriving. I don’t think I’d ever felt more relief, despite the fact we were about to move into a property half the size of our previous few. We now live in basically a two up two down, with one bedroom upstairs divided in half. I share a room with my toddler, and my other two daughters share, my son in the box room. There is an ancient kitchen and bathroom downstairs, and although it’s really tough being ill in this house, I remain overwhelmingly grateful that the system scooped us up and gave us a home.

A couple of things have become apparent since living here.

Firstly, there are no houses to move to in our area. Of the two that have come up, one we were skipped for as we didn’t meet the section 106 requirements (local homes for local people), despite living less than two miles from the house. The second one had so many people apply, we were passed over for a family that had been in temporary accomodation for a year longer, so that’s absolutely fair.

The housing stock is at an all time low, particularly for larger families. To hit the government requirements on new estates for set percentages of social and affordable housing, we are seeing more two and one bed flats and houses being built, than anything else. Of course the percentage households rehomed are higher if each unit contributes to the overall percentage required.  Why build 3\4 bedroom houses on a Site that can house several small households, and profit more from the rest of the land?

So we are stuck. Goodness knows how long for.

Secondly is the money. Our previous rents were all around £900 a month, for three/ four bed large, lovely family homes. Our current rent is higher than that at 1,074 British pounds, a month. We live in a small delapidated house, that the landlord bought under right to buy for a pittance, and he has made, to date, just from my stay here, £51,552.

The council (basically YOU) are 100% funding his profit.

The same can be seen across the whole of the private sector, rents are getting higher and higher, and more and more people are relying on housing benefit to top up their incomes, to cover the extortionate rents. It wouldn’t be possible four years later, to get a four bedroom home for £900, more like £1,100. In simple terms this means that the government are paying to clear people’s mortgages on their rented for business homes, and adding to the huge profit many moguls are already making.

It seems so obvious and simple, but if rents were capped at an affordable level, people could afford their rent, and the government wouldn’t be providing such huge profits for individuals. This would save a huge amount of money, and provide the individual with much needed security.

Alongside this, actually collecting and enforcing the tax on multiple occupancy homes, particularly in university towns where this is a huge blockade for families trying the securely rent, and putting that tax directly back into housing solutions for that local area. What use is that tax if it’s siphoned off into other areas either geographically or politically?

Building significantly more social housing is a must. Aside from the relief it would bring to the housing register, and the individual households, any social housing rents funded by housing benefit would see that cash going back into the system, covering repairs, maintenance, and in an ideal world, building more homes for even more families.
There also needs to be a huge overhaul of the affordable housing market. This system simply isn’t working for many, as it is so difficult to get a mortgage for most people, even only 50% of  a full mortgage. There is also the problem of how to save even a small deposit, if you are paying extortionate rent?

I hear stories everyday of people struggling to cover housing costs, that are desperate for security. Generally speaking,  they are trying to better their own situations, whilst being fair to others. A case as an example; a some good friends  of mine, a couple with three children, had been In social housing for  25 years, having gone though the B and B homeless route, then temporary accomodation. They then eventually settled while their children were growing up, in a stable rent controlled, social home.

Upon their final child leaving home,they felt it was fair to return their home to the social housing system to allow another family to benefit from it. Their circumstances had changed;  At that point no kids were living at home, they both worked, they still weren’t flush with cash, but from where they had been, life was very different. They moved into a new private rented home, and pretty much immediately realised that to cover the rent and be able to save, they  would need a lodger. Then one child needed to come home, then another. They were ideally saving for a deposit, hoping to be approved for a mortgage, but no longer had the security of social housing.

They now find themselves, through doing the right thing, in a situation where they have limited spare funds each month, no security, and are ageing fairy rapidly.

Their case is sadly repeatedly endlessly across the country.

My generation are still picking up the pieces post Thatcher. Her idea to allow the working classes to purchase their own home affordably, was a noble one, but where did that money go? It should have been utilised solely to build further houses to enable future generations the same security and privileges afforded to their predecessors.

Somehow the point got lost.

I once lived in an ex social home privately rented,that was purchased for thirty thousand pounds under than same scheme. We moved out so that same home could be resold at three hundred and forty thousand pounds. Whilst wonderful for that man, and hopefully his family, it begs the question how am I supposed to ever have the same security

I myself float between left wing political parties, I am pro fairness, kindness and equality in all senses of the word. I see the major divide between left and right as being ‘common good’ and’good for me’. sadly those controlling the decision making process regarding what action to take on housing, by and large already have security and have no idea the struggles in front of the mass of British citizens. 99.9% of this country work hard for their families and to better themselves and their own personal situation, how is it fair that the decisions made don’t benefit them, only the 0.1% who already have the wealth, the security and the power??

We need action. Families need a solution, and fast. I always consider myself incredibly lucky to have all I have in my life, and comparatively to a refugee, or a  family escaping war or abuse, my situation is secure and not that important. However in the context of British people, helping British families , and the agenda that is spouted by the right to put British families first, I’m not seeing any hope, or any progress, or any attempt to directly address and resolve this crisis, once and for all.

Me, disabled, with four children, still a homeless statistic after four years. No solution on the horizon. Who are these vulnerable people that Mr Cameron allegedly is protecting and helping, as I would sure like to meet them.

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