Blogs Reports

Any Roof Experience


Reported by Miles

Published on Wednesday, April 5th, 2023

Accommodation Community
Blogs Reports

Any Roof Experience


Written by Miles

Published on Wednesday, April 5th, 2023

Accommodation

Community

I’d been at a hostel for 15 months, got the opportunity of a room in a shared house as part of the resettlement pathway in my city. I took it, and it was okay, blending back into living with three other strangers at first.

Then the opportunity to move property came up, the provider had bought a new house and, given some local hostility, they asked if, as a reasonable tenant, would I move to help smooth the community into accepting a group of, let’s say, single male’s with complex backgrounds. For me, a choice, another set of housemates, a potentially hostile set of neighbours, or stay where I was.

As I was so grateful for having a safe place to live, decent landlords who were helping me, I decided to help them by moving, smoothing the path for future tenancies. I even got first choice of the four rooms available, bonus!

I stayed there for another nine months or so, made some connections with the neighbours, chatted, blended, helped out when asked.

Then, the day finally arrived, my name hitting the top tier of the local housing list for my own place – and my weekly scramble for places began.

Now weirdly, the local authority had two pathways to this place I could call my own again – a fast track one, or a protracted one.

I had decisions to make – fast track seems so inviting, within six weeks or so, but absolutely no choice in where, what I would get, and no recourse to reject, even if it was a hovel… or where I might be amongst old peers, places of danger for me, given my past experiences.

Protracted route, you could bid, select an area somewhere across the city, yet only a maximum three times, if offered it, before you had to accept the final one, again whatever, wherever that was.

I spent what felt like ages, but was days in reality, (because they needed an answer), chatting with my support worker, mulling over with friends, weighing up all the pros and cons of which way to choose, finally arriving at the ‘protracted’ route. Why, you might ask, given I had the chance of my own place, six weeks or so away?

So, weekly bids went in, nothing happened, every Wed night at midnight logging on to see what might be available, was one worth a bid, given the maximum three I was tied to, or realising my place was still a dream not happening.

The amount of time I spent, researching what was available, and often gone in the time I’d researched, was demoralising and draining, the dream ideal place didn’t exist, and resentment of the process definitely grew. I couldn’t fast track now, as I’d given that option up.

Then, one Friday teatime, I got a call, from the local authority… ‘the bid you put in for… xxx…’- I’d even forgotten about it!

I agreed to visit the place the following Wed, but if I liked it, the contract was to sign there and then, legally binding me to it, and a deposit of a month’s rent up front, which was a stretch to say the least. I spent that weekend going to the place, at 6am, teatime and 10.30pm each day to get a feel for the area, setting, and atmosphere. It seemed okay, but seeing as it was a first floor flat, my legs couldn’t stretch to see through the windows of my future abode.

Wednesday came, I’m there early, she arrives, we chat, and then she opened the door. It’s basic, it’s cold, no leccy cos it’s empty, no flooring, yet there’s evidence of the old tenant, their stained outline on the floorboards, I choose not to ask more…. and then the big question… do you like it, are you ready to sign the contract, do you have the deposit… mmm.

Now I’m a reasonable chap, I have a range of words to use, and a voice that can say no… So… I ask her if I can have a few minutes to myself, look again on my own before I give an answer.

I used that time to visualise what I could do, see how I could make the space work, imagining flooring, not outlines, colours on the wall, in time. My heart and tummy were pumping, feelings are a big part of my decision making now, they hadn’t been for such a long time, but this was about my future, accepting responsibility, paying for rent, bills etc that I’d relied on others to do.

I signed…. moved in 10 days later, my previous landlord’s helped me move the few bits in I had, they even gave me a small grant to help with flooring, which I was flabbergasted, but so grateful to them for.

In the time between moving in and flooring going down, I painted some rooms, with help from friends, it started to feel homely. The local authority gave me a small start-up grant for white goods, some basic furniture from the local community store which was fab.

Within a few weeks, I introduced myself to the neighbours, they’re a decent bunch, weirdly establishing that two doors down was a ‘dealer’, the exact thing I feared as someone in recovery, yet I can genuinely say that I live alongside that, without fear. That lifestyle isn’t part of my plan on how to live my life today, but I’m aware that it exists.

So, I guess, in summary, I’ve been lucky, my doubts about being placed anywhere didn’t happen, my own choice actually put me there, and as someone pointed out to me, every neighbourhood has risk, changes with times and you learn and adapt to live there.

My flat is safe, clean mostly, I wash, eat, sleep as I choose, so my resettlement pathway experience was interesting, insightful yet rewarding looking back as I write this down.

Please keep your hope shining bright, there’s a future plan for each of us if we accept the challenges that hit us with compassion and care for each other.

Miles

Written by Miles


I'm Miles, dad of two, lived in York for 33 yrs whose overcome homelessness and addiction to become a local reporter for Groundswell since 2020 sharing my experience and thoughts on various aspects of my journey.

Read all of Miles's articles

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