Council houses in the UK and especially in Birmingham are disgusting. We live in an age where nobody really has the money to buy a house and landlords are becoming more and more ruthless, breaking the law, knowing you don’t have money to take them to court.
After spending 8 months in supported accommodation (after the 3 years in London spending £600+ for a room in a shared house in Brixton and being turfed out with no notice) I thought my best bet was council housing. You see, the council can’t break the law if your work contract ends and you find yourself in 4 weeks of arrears, so there’s a certain amount of security that hasn’t been afforded to me by any landlord in the past. But during the last couple of months I’ve been to viewing after viewing of council houses that are relatively close to Birmingham City Centre. And I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Birmingham’s council housing system is the second worst in the UK.
When I lived in London, I got used to the loud lullaby that beeped, flared and cackled it’s way into my room, and when I came back to Birmingham the quiet night was haunting, so I decided I was going to live as close to the city centre as possible and obviously working in the creative industry, or any industry these days, comes with lack of security. Private letting was just a risk I wasn’t willing to take.
I’ve visited 5 properties, each more disgusting than the last, with graffiti on the walls, broken tiles on the floor (if you get a property that has flooring, take it immediately) wood chip wallpaper from a long forgotten era, with it’s resilience and ability to splinter under your fingernails when you spend the 2 months it takes to remove it, damp in bathrooms which the contractors chose to paint over with anti damp paint, holes in doors, marijuana farms, and NO BUILDING SECURITY. All the while, you’re being pressured to leave supported accommodation because ‘you’ve viewed all these properties but you haven’t taken one’ and if you’re on benefits it gets worse because when you do choose the lesser of 5 evils, you pay half of the money you get every fortnight to secure it, and spend the first two months sleeping on the floor because you just can’t afford a bed.
The deposit get waived if you produce a homeless status letter from your ass but what nobody tells you is that making a housing application saying your homeless and making an homeless application are two different things and you have to do both. Oh and cooker, washing machine, fridge and sofa? Those are luxuries apparently, we have to survive on take out for the 14 DAYS it takes for us to request furniture (single bed, fridge, cooker and sofa that looks like your grandmother died on it) This is social housing. This is the UK.
The cons of private lettings? You have to save for a deposit, your landlord can kick you out and you could lose your deposit. There’s no security.
The cons of social housing. Everything else. Simply put, there’s no standard.
Whilst in London, social housing mean AFFORDABLE housing (bringing prices down from 1,500£ to 670£ for a one bedroom flat in Lambeth,) here, Birmingham housing is pretty affordable, so I’m lying in my nice comfortable bed in supported accommodation, thinking about how on Monday I’ll be reduced to laying on the floor in a sleeping bag on a duvet with UHT soy milk and cereal for breakfast and dinner due to my lack of fridge-freezer and cooker, washing my clothes by hand and only books for company, but no light to read these books in the evening because the electricity is on a meter which i can’t afford to top-up because i’ve just spend my entire week’s worth of money on the deposit for this hell.
So while you guys sit and watch benefit street or listen to the ramblings of politicians who make more money every year then I will see in my lifetime telling you that our benefit and welfare system is draining us of money and we need to make cuts, instead of introducing new revenue streams like the legalization marijuana. This is the truth of the lower/working class. I am the rule, NOT THE EXCEPTION.