Providing unfurnished accommodation is not a sufficient response to the needs of many clients, including those with disabilities. What’s missing adds more evidence to the case for a sea change in housing policy.
Brian Fissenden is Supervisor and Outreach Coordinator (Merstham & Horley) at Citizens Advice Reigate and Banstead.
Many of our clients with physical and mental health needs require furnished accommodation. Such housing should include the basics, including beds, chairs and tables. This is especially important for young carers who may even be disabled themselves.
You may be surprised to read this. Surely humanity itself insists on so obvious a provision? Unfortunately the system is not fully set up to respond.
We have clients who are prone to falls and passing out. Landing painfully on a bare floor can and does compound their problems. There are difficulties in being offered unfurnished properties even for families where no one has a disability. Moving young children into accommodation with nowhere to sit or eat or sleep is heart-breaking and not something we should expect in 2020*.
At Citizens Advice, we’re able to help a lot of people find suitable accommodation, but it regularly takes longer for those with disabilities.
Housing departments are certainly doing their best to meet the need. But the housing crisis puts up formidable obstacles; and, with the onset of Covid-19, there has been an unforeseen consequence even in widely-praised government action to fund shelter for the street homeless and insist on take-up. This has hit the number of properties available, especially affordable ones.
Looking more broadly, the number of affluent housing projects has grown in many places. This may be a desirable in itself, but often has the all too familiar knock-on effect of raising rents further away from city centres. Existing long-term tenants must move because they can no longer afford the neighbourhoods they grew up in.
We urgently need a sea change in housing policy. This is an ongoing campaign for Citizens Advice along with colleagues at Shelter and other housing charities.
* Matching a need with a charity, CARBS Client, 14/05/20