It’s nearly seven months since I began the process of applying for housing through my local council and the progress is laughable. Every few days since the start of March I’ve logged into my council account online to check what’s going on with the multiple documents I was made to upload. “We’re working on it”, says the automatic reply. (Remember, I’m applying because I am being evicted and need wheelchair accessible accommodation.)
I tried calling, no I couldn’t talk to anyone because I haven’t been approved yet therefore I don’t have a case worker to talk to. Kafkaesque.
My mental health team’s social worker refused to call on my behalf “because they never pick up”, so that was the end of that route of advocacy.
My friend, however, did manage to get through. I’m in a better position than most “vulnerable people” applying for housing through this ridiculous system, in that I have a number of friends working in relevant sectors – charities, housing groups etc.- and one of those friends got so frustrated on my behalf that they called the council, explained what their job was, and was forceful enough that the council called me back the same day. I should be hearing from a case worker sometime in the next fortnight, though obviously I’m not holding my breath.
It turns out my application has been sitting in some virtual in-tray in a virtual office that no one occupied and had been since January. “We’re working on it” was some placating notice generated automatically as soon as uploads had been received, whether anyone was actually “working on it” or not. [This was further proven when I tried to apply for a taxicard at the start of this month. I got an email receipt saying they aimed to have it done within two working days; it’s been over two weeks now and, yes, they’re still “working on it”. The good news is I can actually call the concessionary travel department on my own behalf and talk to a human.] I’m starting to believe that council employees aren’t taught how to work the new online system, because that would mean they have to at least try to help as many people as apply for services.
So what now? Now I wait for the phone call from the case worker and try my best not to slip into serious depression over this ridiculous housing situation again. It’s coming in waves, but I’m almost getting used to it.