Housing for disabled - please contribute! — Scope | Disability forum
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Housing for disabled - please contribute!

Hello forum, I recently wrote to the BBC about the recent articles on landlords accepting DSS tenants. I would really appreciate your thoughts, input and experiences of this and if you can please do write in to the bbc about your thoughts! Let's get the message out there!

Re: Online property adverts 'refusing' tenants on benefits

I'd like to share with you my experience of trying to find a home as a disabled adult.

During 2017, I became in chronic pain from a knee condition I was born with. I was diagnosed back in 2014 and not in regular pain at that time. In July 2017, my pain became overwhelming and I found it difficult to walk. I was inbetween work during the time and had recently moved back.

After some time of struggling to get to interviews and not being fit enough to concentrate on applications, I realised I would have to get my knees sorted. When I realised this, I explained to my landlords that at this time I would need help and have to claim DSS whilst waiting for it to be resolved.

My landlords became angry and violent when I explained this. I went to the council and explained that I was scared and needed somewhere to stay. My family had no room for me at home with them and no means to care for someone who is disabled.

I became homeless and moved to the YMCA. Thankfully, I had a room to myself but anyone who has stayed in a YMCA will tell you how thin the walls are, how the general attitude of the staff is that they do not care about you (besides the golden few) and how the people who stay there are not people you want to mix with. They house ex-cons, those who have left care and the disabled. I have no problem with ex-cons - if they want to change.

You have to stay there for 3 months before you can be referred to any organisations, charities and other accommodation by the YMCA. I spent 3 months searching for flats, contacting agents and asking around for somewhere to stay. Because I am unfit for work, it had to be a DSS flat. Every agency I contacted said they did not accept DSS. There were two flats I found advertised on gumtree (out of what must have been over 90 in the area) that accepted DSS, but even then they needed a guarantor. You have to know someone who earns over £20,000 a year and is prepared to cover your rent if you can't. The majority of people on benefits and having to claim DSS are unlikely to know someone who can do this and even if they do would they be comfortable to cover your rent?

I had to stay put for 3 months. It was very difficult. My benefits were still being sorted out, I had very little money to survive and was in constant pain and hardly going out. My support worker referred me to a local charity. I went to an interview with them and they put me up in their property for a period of time. If it wasn't for them, I would have had to stay at the YMCA. The YMCA has ground floor rooms and some shower rails but it really is not adapted to suit individual needs if you are disabled. Thankfully my flat with the charity is close to a lift and on one floor.

Benefits are there to care for people who are in a position where they are disabled and need help. They are there to help someone survive during the rough patches.

We cannot give with one hand and take with the other. We say we want to help the disabled, they deserve to live and have an equal quality of life. We have the Equality Act and claim to be supportive of the disabled when in fact we are ableist. The current system says: 'Yes, you deserve to be alive, it is not your fault you are disabled, but you do not deserve to have a home, or a good quality home compared to those who are not disabled.'

The same goes for women. Many of the general population think if you are on benefits you're a has been, a scrounger and you don't want to work. This is the cause of the behaviour of mortgage companies, landlords and the property market. Most people who are in pain and genuinely suffering would find it a light in their life to  work.

For me, I have been waiting 18 months to see a specialist and get re-diagnosed. I am waiting to see the knee specialist to talk to them about surgery on both knees to correct the defect. I will need operations on both knees and will need time to heal and recover. I am so grateful that working people see my life as worth keeping by creating a benefit system. It is shameful that someone who is disabled, sick, or a woman dealing with troubles in life should have any lesser standard of accommodation, or no accommodation at all, simply because of that fact.

Please can you investigate the situation on landlords accepting DSS tenants in Wales and England and I would like you to share my thoughts with whoever you can that may improve the housing of the disabled, women and those on DSS.

While waiting to be operated on and healing from operations I will need a home and I will have to rely on DSS. I will soon have to move out of my tenancy with the charity - they only keep you for a temporary period of time. I am already incredibly stressed thinking of finding somewhere to live and somewhere that will accept DSS. The world is not making room for disabled people to live independently. I would be expected by most to move back home when there is no resource for me to do that. Please continue investigating and reporting on the subject and please do get back to me if you have any further thoughts.



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