Turns out the council failed to share with me the conclusion to the Homelessness Prevention Assessment they did with me on the phone on 7th July. At the time in my weekly meetings with my Salvation Army Tenancy Support person, in response to questions about it, I mentioned that I hadn’t heard anything back from them. They also didn’t get back to me after their latest email on 1st September, despite follow up emails from me:
My manager is not back until next week, however I will discuss with her the idea of your family covering the rent until your birthday. I just want to clarify with her what documentation we would require and whether RGS would be happy with this as well.
Between 7th July and 1st September there was lots of discussion with me trying to convince the council to house me in a 1 bedroom place as opposed to a shared place like I am in now. I had been reassured multiple times by my original Salvation Army person that they definitely wouldn’t let me go homeless, at least.
It’s been really hard to follow up on anything with the council because they only respond to around 1/3 of my emails. I phoned up 3 different council numbers yesterday and left 3 different voicemail messages. The walk-in centre in the Civic Centre has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s hard to understand why of all services, the Civic Centre wouldn’t be open again yet since it’s a pretty crucial service. The rest of society here is opened up. Night clubs have been open for months…
So yesterday I discovered that in fact they didn’t have any obligation to house me again as they did 2 years ago and was told over the phone eventually (in the most emotionally-brutal and condescending way) about how it would be an impossibility, given their levels of demand and supply. Honestly, I’ve spoken with that guy before and his tone is absolutely brutal and non-heartfelt, totally, totally oblivious. He fires words at you rapidly with barely any pauses before responding, it’s hard to get words in, it’s like an assault. Hard to describe it. You’re just left feeling hopeless and like absolute shit.
Me urgently looking for accommodation has never been on the agenda in my weekly meetings with my Salvation Army support!! Neither of us had seen that Homelessness Prevention letter, which gives all of the information I needed these past few months. No wonder I’ve been confused.
So yesterday I was back in adrenaline-fuelled emergency homelessness mode, which I haven’t experienced since 2 years ago but was all too much like meeting an old friend again. Sarah at Stepping Forward was immediately incredibly helpful despite this not being part of what their charity usually support with (autism/disability support). But she knows me well and was the perfect person to pitch in. She submitted a Safeguarding Referral form to the council:
Robin is due to be evicted from his home on 4 October. The council and Salvation Army have been working to support him but have now gone quiet, not replying to messages. He sent me this message today:’ If I turn up dead next week you know why. I’m not facing homelessness again I’ve already decided that’.
We know Robin as we are advising him on PIP application. He has
autism, OCD and ADHD. I work with Stepping Forward.
Part of the council reply:
I apologies for the lack of communication. My manager was off for 2 weeks and then I was off unexpectedly for 2 weeks.
Robin was issued with a Personalised Housing Plan on 7th July 2021, with instructions on how to look for suitable move on properties. He has not provided me with any updates on suitable properties that he has viewed. Rooms in shared houses are relatively common in the Reading area.
Please not I will be off again for the rest of the week. My manager is aware of Robin’s case and should he find somewhere this week then please can Robin make contact with our team who will be able to support with the next steps.
So…I’ve now shared this letter (dated yesterday) with the Salvation Army team and asked them to support me with finding accommodation urgently (as well as deal with the letting agent/landlord to prevent any further abuse/assaults like earlier in the year). The council advised me to stay in the house beyond the eviction notice date.
Of course, as well as me not receiving this letter to start with or any communications to that effect since, I’m also now dealing with the inevitability of people randomly going off work and dealing with replacements, at the worst possible time.
People in crucial positions and their managers going on leave at the worst possible time without warning is an inevitability.