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No 1: housing

I’m an even-tempered person. I don’t get hot angry very often, but I do know cold angry, of course. I burn with righteousness to fight the social injustice concerning the many ills in our world.

Sometimes I sigh, weary but beady with a determination to expose some shit. Today’s stereotype is that around housing.

I’ve always lived in social housing – council and housing association – for 31 years. Before that I lived with my mum and in long-term medical institutions until I was 24.

I’m urged to write this blog today because I’m making my first tentative steps to buy my own house and also because their really isn’t equality in housing.  Disabled people know this, but non-disabled people may not.

So, we do not get housing on a plate, we don’t get palaces, and when we don’t really need it. We don’t get priority over everyone and we often live in worst conditions because we have to make do.

For a start, there is a very limited stock of suitable housing, especially if you need access for a mobility impairment or steps are not possible because of a long term health condition – which incidentally, may not be visible. (Another stereotype for another blog – “she doesn’t look disabled!”). You can wait and wait and wait. I’ve heard of one friend waiting fifteen years on a housing list. I fought for 4 years to get into council housing in the 80s. In my early 20s, I still had to get permission from social services.

Then there’s often draconian  rules about how many properties you can be offered before you’re left with nothing – creating awful dilemmas non-disabled are not likely to face. For example, do you take a property away from family with more appropriate space? Or something not so good where you may struggle, but have family to hand.

Shall I delve into the Bedroom tax? That most abominable attack on many living in poverty, and certainly a bullseye in attacking disabled tenants.  It exacerbates a situation that’s already horrible.

I am a soft-centreed anarchist; I don’t really believe in owning my own home. But in social housing a disabled person is limited and stuck, more than most. I have no literal mobility in terms of moving to where I might wish to live. I have no right to buy my flat – the purpose built accessible stock is so low, and morally I agree it shouldn’t be sold for profit. But it highlights an inequality. In truth, more accessible properties should be built.

I hate that people Out There do assume it’s all easy. I’m about to embark on the journey to move to Hastings. Hold my hand! Next, to understand about mortgages – to see if I can get one – as a self-employed freelance writer it will be tough. Let alone before we bring in my disability. Can a mortgage company discriminate against me in terms of my medical condition? I’m getting on a bit now – and still it’s a fight and a struggle. Not giving up though, that’s not the Penny way…

Tell me your stories, your experiences. Another blog soon, on another stereotype.