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Housing the homeless


Guest smartieno1

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Guest smartieno1

Dear all comers...

I offer to help support families as a free, independent advocate and whilst performing these duties, I have had reason to help a family who were housed at 5 Broxash Drive.

Whilst helping this family I discovered that this ex-Council flat, that was given to Herefordshire Housing for free is now being rented to homeless families for £832 p/m or £167 per week....plus a charge of £25 p/w for utilities.  If this was not bad enough these tenants have on the spot inspections and can do nothing to make the flat feel homely as they are not allowed to carpet, decorate or hang pictures

I have tried to get Herefordshire Housing to come clean about the rent and why it is so expensive but they are refusing to talk and have rebutted my attempts to obtain information via the Environmental Regulations....so I have now made another FOI request to Herefordshire Council at a cost of £300 to the local tax-payer, as they too refuse to give up information freely.

I am aware that Herefordshire Housing can legally charge a £60 fee per flat of other temporary accomodation and I believe they are using these properties to create an unlawful revenue stream of £550,000 plus per year...but is it morally right to charge the most vulnerable a £60 a week management fee?
 

Anyone living in these properties will not be able to work as the rent is un-affordable and there is no help other than the basic housing benefit for those families who do want to work and Housing Benefit will only cover the full amount if your out of work and I think this is both morally and criminally wrong...what do you think?

I wonder if any of our esteemed Councilors would look into this matter and determine exactly what is going on with HC and HHL which is after all supposed to be a CHARITY whose aim is to help house the most vulnerable in society at a rate that is affordable to all. 
 

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Guest smartieno1

Dear Councillor Powell,

Many thanks for looking into this situation and I cannot wait to see what you have managed to find out....

As for the bill for these properties it is covered in full by Housing Benefit until the recipient decides/ or has to go to work....Once this happens the cost of the management fee is no longer covered by Housing Benefit if my understanding of the situation is correct.  I wish I could be more precise but it is this information which has eluded me to-date.

I have also been told that Herefordshire Housing are charging £175 for a similar flat at River Veiw , Putson ...again it is being used to house homeless families

 

Edited by smartieno1
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Ah I see, so it's not the people having to pay these rates, it's an internal inter-company scam to generate more money like a tax/bonus scam. Write budgeted tax payers money off against paying for these houses, then the top brass gets a bigger cut. This is where we find that someone working on the housing benefits system also has their fingers in the Hereford Housing company.

Edited by Biomech
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Guest smartieno1

For anyone interested here is a link to a report from 2006 when this issue was being discussed by an organisation called Community Links;

http://www.community-links.org/images/uploads/EP9.pdf

One interesting aspect of this report is section 5.1 which deals specifically with those families in Temporary Accommodation, who were in work at the time of this report, as they were being offered a rebate on their rent to enable them to afford to remain in their temporary home and work at the same time:

 5.1 Short term solutions 


5.11 Smoothing the transition to the private rented sector Several boroughs have attempted to resolve this issue at a local level by providing a rebate on rent to people in TA who wish to work. These ‘worker’s rebate schemes’ are currently running in Camden and in Haringey for example. This supports people for a few months to begin work and to find alternative accommodation by capping the rents (at £80 in Haringey) payable by those in TA who wish to return to work

I think this is the answer to the current problem in the short-term but the most obvious answer is to make the rent the same regardless of whether it is temporary or permanent...

 
Edited by smartieno1
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I have received a reply by email from my initial question to Herefordshire Council this afternoon, the reply is the family concerned will be receiving an enhanced rate on their housing benefit to cover this.I will be speaking again to officers from the council tomorrow morning. As yet I have had no reply from HH because the officer I needed to speak to was in a meeting until lunchtime by which time I had left myself to attend a meeting until 6pm tonight. because of this I was assured that the officer from HH would contact me tomorrow morning, if I do not hear from them I will contact them again. Phil, thank you for including me into your email to the CE and officer of HH.

Edited by Glenda Vaughan-Powell
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I have now received a reply from HHL. The lady concerned has moved from the temporary accomodation three weeks ago to a property she had bid for through Homepoint and which meets her needs.
As a ward councillor I am able to ask questions and get answers from Both HC and HHL normally within 24 hours on housing matters.
To clarify when someone is or has become homeless they are dealt with through the council which has private properties for families to rent or if there is only one person or a couple they normally go into bed and breakfast accomodation. There is a standard rent for these properties and the money for these come from Central Government which has to be applied for on a yearly basis, if the people are on benefits there is an enhance payment to cover the total cost of the rent, therefore their rent is paid in full. On occasions a housing company of which there are 6 who are registered with Homepoint allocates temporary accomodation for up to 3 months to people who are homeless until they either bid on properties through the homepoint system or who are allocated properties big enough for their needs.I hope this is of help if anything like this is discussed here in the future.

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Dear Councillor Powell,

 

Many thanks for looking into this situation and I cannot wait to see what you have managed to find out....

 

As for the bill for these properties it is covered in full by Housing Benefit until the recipient decides/ or has to go to work....Once this happens the cost of the management fee is no longer covered by Housing Benefit if my understanding of the situation is correct.  I wish I could be more precise but it is this information which has eluded me to-date.

 

I have also been told that Herefordshire Housing are charging £175 for a similar flat at River Veiw , Putson ...again it is being used to house homeless families

 

 

 

This seems a huge amount of money smartieno1? Keep up the good work fella  and lets hope that you get to the bottom of this, I am intrigued now :Thumbs-Up:

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Guest smartieno1

The facts are as follows;

The family were left in the temporary accommodation for over 12 months and during that time were subjected to racist abuse, had an eviction notice served on the 9 year old daughter and were penalised when the mum went back to work because she had to pay the full rent £167 plus £25 making her weekly rent £192 for which she received no help..none at all..no Housing Benefit nothing!!

I was responsible for getting the family re-housed as I took over from the CAB who were failing this poor woman and I had to fight a hard fight with Hereforsdhire Council who asked Herefordshire Housing to serve an eviction notice on this family when a disabled family member joined the household... 

HHL are also trying to chase her for £150 for changing locks when they lost the keys... and £60 for dumping rubbish that she never dumped and nearly £400 worth of rent for the last two weeks she lived there whilst working

I am meeting with the Chief Executive on Monday when I will be discussing this case and others such as the Herefordshire Housing disabled tenant who did not have a bath or shower for 3 years because HHL refused to adapt his property I will also be accompanied by another tenant who has a myriad of on-going complaints about a property at Ethelstan Cresent 

Finally, this issue is about the fairness of the exhorbitant rent charged for Temporary Housing by a charity such as Herefordshire Housing...and I belong to this organisation as I too am a tenant and I want to belong to a charity that puts people befor profit and is open honest and transparent in all its dealings


 

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Hi Smartieno1

I wanted to check my facts before I posted this.

I know of a family who were in this situation, for 3 months. They required temporary housing as they were made homeless.The woman received maternity leave pay, whilst her partner  worked full time, and was paid just over the minimum wage - their rent was at the rate you stated. I helped them complete housing benefit forms. They received £11.00 per week help. I was shocked.

This is an absolute outrage.

They literally had no money to live on after paying this.

Thankfully, they were rehoused quickly, and now pay Â£87.00 per week rent.

As working tenants, there was next to no help available to them. This is so wrong. 

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Guest smartieno1

Dear Councillor Powell,

Can you post the replies you have had from HHL and HC...

Can you also ask them to answer the following questions which have been sent to the Access Team at HC:

How many 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 bedroom properties do Herefordshire Council rent from Hereford Housing for temporary accomodation (licensed or otherwise)?

How many of those properties are disabled friendly?

How many of those properties cost more than £100 per week to rent?

How do these properties meet the need to be affordable under section 17 of the Homelessness code of Guidance for Local Authorities?

How many of these properties are classed as licensed houses of multiple occupation?

Are Herefordshire Council paying Herefordshire Housing a weekly management fee of £60 for every single property that they rent to Herefordshire Council for use as temporary accomodationr?

How much is the total weekly bill that Herefordshire Council pay to Herefordshire Housing for management fees for the temporary accomodation? 

How much is Herefordshire Council's total housing benefit bill for temporary accomadtion rented from Herefordshire Housing?

 

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Guest smartieno1

And DippyHippy..

I have worked with a family who were forced to move into one of these properties and had no money to pay the full rent due to circumstances beyond their control...and Councillor Kenyon personally paid the outstanding rent because he was so disgusted with the situation...

Herefordshire Council and HHL were going to evict this family from Temporary Accommodation despite putting them in there knowing they could not afford it.....

Do not be fooled by the people at HC and HHL.... :Happy_32:

Edited by smartieno1
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Good work Glenda, but can you explain the £832pcm rent issue for, what I'm assuming to be, a very low standard of accomodation?

 

From a cynical viewpoint, one I would frequently take, the rent is probably set at a really high level (for rubbish accommodation) as the Housing people know that most of the time it will be covered by the tax payer. ie me and you. They will charge what they can get away with.

 

I have a very good friend who works at a sort of Housing Association type company (in a totally different local authority area which will remain nameless) who tells me that 75% of the rental income for their portfolio of properties (which is a VERY large portfolio) is paid by the Housing benefit system. ie The Govt. ~ which means basically the taxpayer. 

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Guest smartieno1

Umm.... the taxpayer also makes up the wages of the poorest paid.....there should be no reason for Working Families Tax Credit....but I guess that is a different thread  :Winky:

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If I was getting my £832 monthly rent paid by somebody else (so basically living rent free) then I don't think I'd bother getting out of bed to look for a job. As I might lose the £832.

 

The benefit cap is in now tho ~ which I think is £500 a week for a couple. So £2000 a month. That might not be a lot in the South East (with the sky high rents) but it's probably manageable in The Shire. It might not cover foreign holidays and global travel but would probably sort out some food, the Sky box, booze and tobacco ... 

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Hi Smartieno1,

Going back to one of your earlier posts, the weekly spot check.

Is this really necessary? The family I know of, had their weekly visit on a Thursday. They had asked if it could be an afternoon visit, as the one tenant worked 12 hour night shifts. A reasonable request you would think. But no.

In this one bedroom property, an inspector would peer around the door, as the poor chap tried to get some sleep, before marking his piece of paper "satisfactory."

I just found the whole situation unbelievably awful.

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the rent is probably set at a really high level (for rubbish accommodation) as the Housing people know that most of the time it will be covered by the tax payer. ie me and you. They will charge what they can get away with.

 

 

 

Indeed, that's my take on it, as per my previous post about the tax/bonus scam

 

The benefit cap is in now tho ~ which I think is £500 a week for a couple. So £2000 a month. 

 

 

 

Even that is in excess of what is required to live. I live on my own and survive on just over a grand a month. If I was part of a couple, the rent and bills don't really change, it just means I'm 50% better off because my other half would be paying the other half. The total cost of living would still only be just over a grand. Probably less in fact because I wouldn't have to throw out so much food.

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How many 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 bedroom properties do Herefordshire Council rent from Hereford Housing for temporary accomodation

 

 

 

HAHAHA, so let me get this straight, HC gave away all of their houses to a company for free and now they pay the company to rent them back? That is ******* hilarious!

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Guest smartieno1

Good evening folks,

I had a brilliant meeting with Peter Brown from HHL and he was welcoming, warm and friendly...the main points from the meeting are as follows:

Hereford Housing (HHL) paid £46 Million Pounds for the Housing Stock from Herefordshire Council...so I was wrong they did not get them for free

HHL are now setting aside 4 affordable properties for working homeless families and are considering my proposal to make all of their temporary properties affordable when the family find work.

There are 38 properties set aside for temporary housing at the Oval and these provide a potential revenue stream of £118,560 per year which goes to pay for cleaning of the communal areas and to provide help with welfare, benefits and housing. 

Apart from that I was informed that the tone of my e-mails and my use of Social Media has done little to engender me into the hearts and minds of the staff as they have felt threatened and devalued with some of my comments....they were read out to me by Mr Brown and I must say that I felt embarrassed somewhat as I made some unfair allegations of possible criminal wrong-doing or misfeasance and there was no evidence of either...so I feel I ought to publicly apologise for any hurt or anguish I cased Herefordshire Housing and its staff  :Blushing_32: 

Apart from that I can report that I am considering standing for Resident Board Member but this could be problematic as the Code of Conduct effectively stops any dissent or discord on penalty of expulsion if you don't toe the party line.....lol

I am toying with the idea of setting up a free and truly independent alternative to the Board, for all Tenants of HHL, so that the tenant can have a truly representative voice putting forward the trials and tribulations of renting from HHL which occur occassionaly

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Smartiano, My good friend, you are telling me that Brown sat you down and read you your emails and as a result you felt compelled to apologise to him and his staff.

You are a good lad and you've done well to fight this battle for the weak and the vulnerable. Don't you ever apologise for being straight, forthright, open, honest and frank and from hereon you never apologise to a man who sits you down and talks down to you implying that your objections haven't helped your cause.

Kiddo, this Brown, has sat you in a chair, slightly lower to his and he's told you, me and others of our ilk to know our place and don't say a single word that questions his wisdom. This is no leader of people. I can lead. I know leadership when I see it and reading out your emails whilst you were sat upon the naughty step tells me that this is a weakness. Not in you. In him. So desperate is he to silence you and so frightened to debate the issue openly, he pulls out your emails and reads then out to you.

You never appologise. Never. Not when you are right and Brown is wrong. And you my friend have right on your side. And let me tell you this simple truth. The only person within that organisation that's been offended by your fight is him. Not the staff. He's simply justifying his fragile ego and hiding his hurt behind his members of staff and, by saying this he pretends to himself that this is great leadership. In fact, when he moves on to greener pastures he'll lift his encounter with you, use it as a positive outcome for challenging public disobedience.

You are a good lad. Im proud of your work and you are a credit to the art of questioning why these things are done but don't ever appologise to a weak leader of men and women.

My very warmest regards to you.

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