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Council Housing Allocation to single parents. It's all covert stuff :(

(9 Posts)
waitingfornaru Tue 30-Aug-11 00:43:37

Posting in Lone Parents as it's most applicable, couldn't see a specific Housing category.

Whilst living up north, I was offered 4 houses within two years of registering on the council housing list. (Lancashire and then Yorkshire).

Some towns up there have effectively whole estates boarded up and empty and people are encouraged to move in under 'Fast Track' allocations, ie you could register and be offered a house the same day if you really didn't mind living on this sort of estate or boarded up street. They even pay your decoration allowance, furniture allowance, moving costs, etc.

But I never applied for those. However, I waited and eventually after a couple of years offers came in. But I noticed a pattern sad

The houses I was being offered were on estates infamous for housing typical people, such as full of young, single parents, or mostly unemployed, or the ASBOs, or the ethnic minorities (who atrociously were always allocated the absolute worst estates ~ tenement slum flats almost, at least in Rochdale).

When I bid for houses in nicer estates I was always way down the list. When I bid for the most unpopular estate, I was offered the house...no coincidence ; the nicer estates are populated by older people whose children have flown the nest (two people therefore occupying 3 or 4 bed houses hmm ). They really do seem to keep typical groups allocated together on specific estates. Isn't that downright prejudice? But if it is, how on earth do you define it and make successful complaint about it?shock

That was Rochdale area anyway.
In West Yorkshire, despite being a single parent with two very young children, I was offered 3 bedroom houses and once even a 4 bedroom. The catch was, all were on the 'worst' estates. No wonder they were dangling a 4 bedroom carrot at me!

Quell surprise, when I bid for a modest two bedroom house on a beautifully kept tiny cul-de-sac estate full of pensioners, I was waaaayyyyyyyyyy back down the bidding position.

I thought the idea was that you waited donkey's years, as I did, then bid for housing suitable for your needs, not above your needs, in an area convenient for schools and amenities, not to suddenley reach the top of the list one week when you bid for a crummy estate house and be demoted back down the list when you bid for a better estate?

Anyway, this is just a rant, but suffice to say, if you don't care where you live, there are some towns up north desperate for you to move in today, and it all makes me wonder, when I rode the bus through a place called Back o' the Moss estate near Manchester a few years ago, street after street of boarded up houses, there must have been a couple of hundred, why on earth aren't these 'Hard To Let' (aka 'Fast Track Allocations') properties given to the many hundres of homeless people on our streets and in our hostels??

It's all a bit depressing if you are a sinlge parent and waiting for housing. I could be totally wrong of course, but the facts are there in the property portfolio I bidded on over the course of a few years in different areas sad It can't all be coincidence.

What does anyone else think/ Do you have similar experience of bidding allocations??

yellowsubmarine41 Tue 30-Aug-11 00:51:55

Sorry to hear about your housing difficulties.

I don't have any direct experience of bidding for social housing, but from how I understand it, each property goes to the bidder with the highest number of 'points' or priority.

It doesn't seem surprising that popular areas will have more people bidding, so the necessary points needed to be successful will be higher.

Time on the list matters in a very minimal way these days; it's all about 'priority'.

GypsyMoth Tue 30-Aug-11 00:59:20

The houses in nicer area are likely to have been made suitable or adapted for disabilities over time?

I got offered Slough! No way!

madhattershouse Tue 30-Aug-11 01:06:51

In my area you will be offered a b+b or hostel..takes 18 months+ to get a temporary place and up to 3 years to get a council house. Good luck, hope you find them more helpful than we did!

plumtomato Tue 30-Aug-11 10:42:27

My sister has just been allocated a council flat, she is a single parent threatened with homelessness and was staying on a relative's sofabed for months.

I think the allocation procedures were much more transparent than you describe. My sister was allocated her points, made bids for properties and she was told the ranking of her bid and how many others had bid every week. Whether she was successful depended on how many others had bid and what kind of points they had. Obviously, the nicer areas had more bids so she tended to be ranked lower in those.

The most problematic part of it all was actually getting the right number of points allocated, they initially disagreed that she was homeless and tried to push her into a b&b, but that would have meant her staying out of the borough and she would have then lost her points for 'being local'. They also dragged their feet the whole time and needed lots of follow up emails and calls.

She got an advisor to advocate on her behalf which really helped and is something I'd recommend. I also think it's important to get any paperwork and evidence in order, for example getting medical evidence of the stress your housing situation is causing and any intervention by social services. I think that homeless people often lead chaotic lives and can't gather all this evidence themselves, so although they are in need of housing they can't prove it.

We live in London and we don't have really awful no-go estates, although some are worse than others. All of them still get a high number of bids though as demand is so high here. Most of them are fairly mixed, I don't see the same divisions that you report, although there is a bit of a racial mix on some estates but I think that's probably self-selecting (e.g. very tight Jewish/Turkish communities who would only bid in those areas).

BlobChob Thu 01-Sep-11 11:45:48

We've a choice based (joke) letting system here in my part of Surrey. I'm a single parent of 4 trapped in stock broker belt without the silver spoon in my mouth. Just been given a section 21 notice to leave my current private rental (been here 2 years after moving in from a DV supported housing unit) and the local Council want to try and put us in another private rental IF they can find one. Local Housing Allowances/Housing Benefit won't cover private rents here and we're talking about £300-£400 shortfall each month. About 3 (if lucky) 3/4 bed properties on the social housing list come up to bid on each fortnight...so we bid and we bid and have done so for the past 4 years to no avail...along with hundreds of others, many with priority status. No family to turn to, no assets, no nothing! Shelter can't help, CAB useless. I'm in a perpetual state of despair currently and I know I'm not the only one! sad

niceguy2 Thu 01-Sep-11 15:55:32

I think the fundamental problem is that there are many people who have great need (and therefore points) and they are able to outbid you on the more desirable properties.

They also don't want to live in the rough areas so they dont bid on the lower ones either knowing if they can just hang on a little longer, something better will come up.

Fair? well that's relative really. To you no. To the family with more points than you, yes.

Lougle Thu 01-Sep-11 19:31:09

It really doesn't work as you suggest smile

We live in an area that has moved from a 'points' system to a 'bands' system.

The way it works is this:

You are banded in a band from 1-5. It's a bit of a bell-curve situation:

Band 1: Life threatening illness/bed blocking in hospital
Band 2: Seriously overcrowded/accomodation grossly unsuitable/would free up a house for other applicants (ie. want to downsize).
Band 3: Pretty much everyone unless they meet Band 2/3 criteria
Band 4: Need accomodation but no local connection/adequately housed
Band 5: Eviction for social disorder/Non-payment of rent/Well off and well housed, no need for housing

Each week houses are put on the register, people bid. Priority goes to highest band, then earliest date registered if more than one person from a band applies.

Our example:

Family consists of 2 adults, 3 children under 6. Eldest DD has SN, I am carrying her to bed at night (she can walk, but by evening is exhausted and can't/won't walk up the stairs, isn't safe). We have an upstairs toilet only, and DD1 can't be allowed up to the toilet on her own for safety reasons.

We have a postage-stamp garden, and DD1 needs space to burn off energy. Because of her SN, I can't take the children to the park on my own. We need a chill-out room for her, downstairs, because she gets very wound up, then hurts her sisters (recommended by professionals).

Private rental from landlord relative, so we have been able to adapt the property (stairgates everywhere, electro-magnetic lock on front door, acrylic glass on bannisters), but couldn't do so in a privately rented property from a non-relative landlord.

DD1 goes to a Special School, so we need to stay in catchment for transport. Also, parents live locally and are our main support with DD1.

We were banded initially in Band 3. Every week we looked at the list, and even for houses which we wouldn't consider, we were 130 on the list.

5 months on, we have had an OT assessment, and they have rebanded us from Band 3 to Band 2.

Now, we have 3-6 people ahead of us, depending on the area. If we were willing to move out of area, we would have been housed by now. But we aren't. We need to stay in our village, for all of the above, and DD2 is just starting school in the village. We know that by insisting on being in this village, we will wait longer, but we are willing to do that.

Choufleur Thu 01-Sep-11 19:34:59

You will get points and/or be slotted in a housing band based on your need for housing. If you are bidding on properties then it's likely that those in nicer areas have more people bidding on them and you are not the highest priority/been on the waiting list the longest.

Properties in worse areas are likely to have less people bidding so you have a better chance of getting them. Also some areas tend to have housing with similar, rather than mixed, number of bed homes so you won't find big families there because there are only 1 and 2 bed properties for example.

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