27th Jul, 2021

Coventry mum with anxiety, bipolar and autistic son hits out after being left two years on housing list

SOCIAL housing shortages has meant a Coventry mum has been waiting two years to be rehomed.

Lorna Smith has bipolar disorder and severe anxiety and her son is on the autistic spectrum and has ADHD.

She said living in a flat was severely impacting her and her son’s mental health.

“We’ve lived here since my son was a year old which was fine, until he started to show signs of autism and sensory issues.

“When I applied to Coventry Homefinder for medical reasons to have a higher banding I had to appeal three times.

“I sent in doctors’ letters, occupational therapist letters, school letters regarding our health conditions and the need for a house with a garden for my son to have a safe area to play.”

Ms Smith was approved for priority banding last year, but said whenever she logged on to Coventry Homefinder there was at least 100 other people ahead of of her for housing.

“Coventry Homefinder told me I can apply to private landlords but when I have been trying to do this, a lot of them will not accept universal credit and disabilities tenants.

“This is making my mood so low and increasing my anxiety that I can not provide a safe outdoor space for my son to play.”

A council spokesperson said: “We have approximately 14,000 households registered on Coventry Homefinder seeking alternative accommodation however in 2020/21 only 1,037 properties became available for letting in the city.

“This means that households often have to wait for a considerable period of time to secure a property even when we have accepted that there is a housing need for them to move home.

“We would recommend that people bid for three properties a week and that the customer continues to bid for properties across the city.

“Although a number of private landlords in the city will not accommodate people on benefits – a number will, and for many households securing a suitable home in the private sector is a lot quicker than waiting for social housing.”

 

‘New policy will see Homefinder system improved’

COVENTRY City Council says changes to its Homefinder system which came into force yesterday will make applying, searching and bidding for housing easier for residents.

It follows an update to the authority’s housing policy last autumn which will bring changes to priority banding to make sure people are prioritised correctly.

It will also see some changes to applicant eligibility and the way people are banded – those applying for homes must have a local connection (barring exceptional circumstances) and earn or have assets less than £50,000.

As a result, some people’s priority bands may change to ensure those with the greatest housing need in the city, such as care leavers, are prioritised.

New categories – such as living with friends or family or financial difficulty in current properties have also been added to the system.

Before the new site launches, those currently on the register need to reapply by September 6 to make sure their details are up-to-date and their priority banding is correct.

Coun David Welsh, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for housing and communities, said the new system and policy update would make the process easier and ensure those in need are prioritised accordingly.

“The new website will be much easier to use and bid for homes, and our teams have managed to simplify the application system to a single form.”

He urged everyone currently registered to reapply to ensure they remained in the system and everyone was in the right band for their needs.

Visit www.coventry.gov.uk/homefindersignup for more on the changes, questions and answers and a how-to guide.

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