Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Punitive policies and suicidal thoughts in emails

This is long because it is three emails I sent within one conversation. I've paraphrased the council response because I'm not sure it's ok to post it at all.
Still, the system doesn't give a toss if you kill yourself.
Take Jennyfer Spencer; a martyr to housing. Yesterday I asked the shadow housing minister to take up her case on the Guardian Housing Network discussion and gave him the article link. Will he? Look out for it.
As for me, I might send someone this run of emails, just in case you know, just in case.
In the meantime, suicide is very much in the news at the moment, with Clarkson calling victims Jonny Suicide and selfish for hurling themselves infront of an oncoming train. So um, I guess this is quite topical. Oh stigs, we're so on trend...

2nd December
Subject: Is it true...?

Dear [Allocations],
I hope you are well. You might be quite surprised to get an email from me but you are the best person who can clarify something I was told this morning.
A friend of mine who has been harrassed in her home, been given extra points and is bidding now from [England's Hostel] told me she'd been told it was important to bid or we got penalised.
Is that true?
I know the waiting list is long and the coalition want council's to shorten it but is one way to reduce it, to penalise people who do not bid on the homeconnections site?
I do not bid.
I cannot bid.
I've tried but I go into a suicide default position where I want to kill myself.
It's very hard to live in a dark dark place like that so I try to avoid it, and it's best avoided by not bidding.
I don't have enough points.
As you know, when I was in desperate need I was unsuccessful. I have no chance now and the knowledge of three evictions. So I cannot bid and I cannot avert another eviction and now I discover I will penalised because of that. [Ex homeless household support worker] knows all this because I told him.
I actually signed on to ESA two weeks ago following another breakdown. I wouldn't mind having another breakdown if I knew the home I was in was settled and my child was settled in his school because it might be the last one I have but I don't have that kind of security so I am likely to keep on having breakdowns, to keep on landing in my suicide default position where I want to kill myself but can't because I love my son and will not leave him.

Please tell me what the new rules are around housing. Please tell me what it means for my family that we do not/are unable to bid. I can't make my son start doing it. Make a nine year old feel that desperation and hopelessness? I can't.

We do love this flat. We have a room each and it's a great location for my son's school, friends, community we have lived in all his life.
It's expensive though. I've been paying last winter's electricity bill at £40 a week so I've not put the heating on yet even though it's cold.
I got a letter yesterday from the housing association saying I was £2000 in arrears which simply isn't true. It can't be true. I have not started work yet, I have been unsuccessul with all my applications. I'm aware I'm better off than those families in the private sector who have had their housing benefit capped. Same fears though.

If you could let me know about the housing rules and how they fit around my family - just the two of us in temporary accommodation - I would be really grateful.

If you are no longer the best person to speak to about housing allocation please let me know who is.

Thanks very much

Kind regards

Dear Ms [de Nim]

Thank you for your email. However, I believe you have been given incorrect information. There are no new rules around bidding and we do not have a system where people are penalised for not bidding.

Under our current allocations scheme, some points will be time-limited for a period of time i.e. three or six months say for harassment/DV and after that period has expired the points will be automatically removed from the application. This could be what your friend means. I presume that she is a council tenant placed temporarily at [England’s Hostel], because homeless applicants under the current scheme do not receive harassment priority.

We will be reviewing the allocations scheme next year and it is very possible that we will make a number of changes and consider penalties around those who are in a position to bid successfully but are not doing so. But there will be a number of issues that we want/need to take into consideration but will do so in consultation beforehand.

I hope I have been able to answer your query satisfactorily.

Thanks [Allocations] for your reply.

Yes, my friend is a council tenant. Why, if people such as myself have been accepted as homeless under the council's duty of care, why can't we have the same 'advantages' as council tenants. Not that harrassment is an advantage, far from it for anyone, but you know what I mean. I wish her luck of course, as I'm constantly wishing luck for myself and my son.

How will the council decide if someone is 'in a position to bid'? I might be seen to be in a position to do so but I'm not in a position to bid, I've explained why but I wouldn't trust the council to take that into account, for they didn't take into account letters from psychiatrists in the past saying how important a secure home was for me.
Can you let me know what the issues are that may be considered, particularly in light of penalties? It directly affects me and my son. In a year and a half our lease will be up. With the points I have currently I would not be successful bidding, not now, not then, particularly as you know I was not successful when in 'desperate need'.

It's all hopeless to be honest with you, really hopeless and I really don't know what to do about it anymore.

Thanks again for your reply. It's good to know I'm not being penalised yet
I hope we don't get penalised at all.

Kind regards

Dear Ms [de Nim]

Thank you for your email.

I don’t think anyone who has to move unwillingly from their home because of harassment/DV would say that harassment priority is an advantage. However, it is more difficult to move a council tenant who has an established tenancy than it is a homeless applicant, because we can always find alternative temporary accommodation immediately for homeless applicants than we can for council tenants.

In deciding whether someone would be in a successful position to bid, we would need to consider the size of home they require, the number of properties that have become available in the past year, the number of points they have, the average points that size property based on successful bids, whether the applicant had above average points and their bidding frequency.

The review of the scheme has not begun and so penalties aren’t being considered at the moment, but that is not to say that they would be entirely ruled out. It is something that might be considered. However, I really don’t want you to dwell on something that might not happen and has not been opened up for discussion at this particular time. The issue of penalties among other issues relating to the allocations scheme would be something to take into consideration as part of the consultation process of the review of the scheme.


Dear [Allocations],

Harrassment is no way an advantage, no way, that's why I put it in inverted commas. It's really sad it has come to that for my friend, who like you say, was a council tenant so harder for her family to move into another better permanent home. She actually should have been moved a long time ago so hopefully her time in [England's Hostel] will be short. The fact that it's very easy to move me is what has catastrophic effects on my mental health.

You are right also that I shouldn't dwell on something that hasn't happened but on your list, already, bidding frequency is considered. I have tried to do it while I've been here but I crash. I crash into a dark dark place. Every time. When I moved into [Papier Mache Towers] and started bidding after six months I was contemplating how I could kill myself when there was a powercut and I heard my son call out for me. It still shocks me today that if the window could open wider than a couple of inches, I wouldn't be here. I'd have left a three year old boy sitting at a table, possibly clambering out after me.

I've been bidding despite hating the process because I had to, I was losing my home and now I'm blocked. I can't physically do it and now I can't apply for jobs either. And worse of all, no-one can help me. I've had tons of therapy and still I here am, with a bidding frequency of zero, unable to do what I have to do, even though stability is what I crave for my son and myself.

Please let me know when the consultation starts. In the meantime I will try not to think of housing so if you could write a note by my number that due to mental health problems I am unable to bid for properties I would be very grateful. I don't want the lack of activity to be held against us should we be evicted again in a year's time. I don't think I can go through it again [Allocations]. Three times is already too much.

Kind regards

Out Of Office AutoReply: Is it true....?


Anonymous said...

If I had the cash I would pay the arreers ...so you'd not have to worry anymore. Unfortunately I can't help but I would if could, I really would. I think that you need your slate wiped clean...if you know what I mean. Hugs.

Stigmum said...

Oh bless you. I wouldn't take your money though, not for that. The housing association officer is coming next week, I'll query it, but it's 'routine' I think. A 'routine' reminder that I'm f**ked if ever I have to pay this rent myself...
Hug gratefully accepted, thank you! x

Frankie P said...

Keep strong and positive.. if you can't think of your wee boy. he needs his mum..

Stigmum said...

Thank you Frankie P. It's crazy but my son always pops up, in every single uncontrollable dream and if he doesn't, well, it's like back then, a powercut. I'm very lucky. Nowadsys I don't think he's better off without me, I can't judge that but I did then, truly believed he would be. When things are that dark, you can't see straight, you certainly can't think straight and that's part the reason I posted this, so people could undertand that those who do kill themselves can't necessarily help it. That's the tragedy of it.
Thanks for your comment xxx