Fair Housing for Frome – a blog by Anita Collier – May 2020
At Fair Housing for Frome our main concerns are homelessness, community led housing, and renters, landlords & lodgers, and we’re coming across many situations recently where people are becoming increasing saddled with debt, struggling with landlords, and even made fearful of losing their homes. For anyone who feels distressed, anxious or overwhelmed, Mindline is an emotional support helpline which has been specifically set up to deal with the outcomes of the coronavirus. (Mindline Somerset 01823 276892)
The organisation Shelter tell us that the number of social homes being built is at its lowest for 70 years. Homelessness has spiralled and millions of people are trapped in expensive and often poor quality private rented homes. There are 1.1 million households who are stuck in limbo on the social housing waiting list.
Right now, too many people are being held back by the lack of a decent, stable home they can afford. Without the secure foundation of a home, their lives – like so many others – are becoming increasingly challenging.
As we go deeper into the Covid-19 crisis, we’re being made more aware of the difficulties facing those struggling to pay mortgages or rents. So, if you’re in that position, where do you turn?
There are many ways Fair Housing for Frome can help, but firstly I’d like to tell you about some of the new changes that have been taking place within the organisation. Our two development workers who have done so much to drive the work of the organisation forward have recently stepped down, and due to the ever-pressing need for more action, the board has recently been increased by another five new members.
The outcome of this new expansion means that we are able to tackle more issues, create new opportunities for research, and look to develop more ways in which to help you.
But exactly how we can help depends exactly on what your needs are. What are your pressing priorities? What’s your biggest worry? With this in mind, we’d like to ask you to work with us so that we are in a better position to help you and of course that means understanding more about you and your circumstances. One of the ways we can do this is to create a survey. We’ll be telling you more about that in the very near future.
In the meantime, here are some of the phone numbers which you might find useful:
Phone 01373 488578
The Citizens Advice Bureau
Phone 03444 889623
Frome Town Council
Phone 01373 465757
Mendip District Council
0300 303 8588
And here is what Shelter features on its website about homelessness and some tips for where you stand.
Who the council must help (For residents in Frome, the relevant housing authority is Mendip District Council – https://www.mendip.gov.uk/housing)
The council must help if you’re legally homeless or threatened with homelessness.
You are‘threatened with homelessness’ if you’re likely to be homeless within the next 8 weeks or you’ve received a section 21 notice from your landlord.
How much help you get depends on your circumstances – you may get housing or personal advice to help you find or keep your home.
If you don’t meet immigration and residence conditions, the council only has to give general advice and information.
Short term help
The aim of the plan is to help you keep your home or find somewhere else to live.
The council usually works with you for:
- up to 8 weeks if you’re threatened with homelessness
- a further 8 weeks if you become homeless
The council must help for longer than 8 weeks if you’ve been given a section 21 notice and are still facing homelessness when the notice period ends.
You may qualify for emergency housingwhile the council looks into your situation if the council thinks you’re homeless and in priority need.
Longer term housing
If you’re still homeless after 8 weeks, the council decides if you qualify for longer term housing.
You won’t qualify unless you:
If you qualify, you may have to stay in temporary accommodation until longer term housing is available.
One of the most positive effects of the coronavirus outbreak has been that of encouraging a more community way of living. Although many of us are still in isolation, we’re being encouraged to look out for our nearest five neighbours, to help others with shopping and prescriptions, and it’s these acts of community kindness and caring that are helping us to move back to a closer community network. Community-led housing is therefore something that is likely to take on greater significance in the forthcoming months ahead. House sharing, and the development of small community hubs are the way forward. Make sure you stay up to date with community-led housing information on our website https://fairhousingforfrome.org.uk
Renters, Landlords & Lodgers
We’re regularly talking to letting agencies and landlords about the issues that arise. Although we understand that letting agencies need to run an efficient business, we also want to encourage fair treatment of tenants. In order to do that, we need more information from you about what works for you and what doesn’t. Your response to our forthcoming survey will therefore be useful in helping us identify the areas in which we can be of more help.
Frome Area Community Land Trust
Fair Housing for Frome helped to set up the Frome Area Community Land Trust, an organisation that is actively looking for land that can be used for building, particularly housing that will be affordable ‘in perpetuity’. Take a look at their website https://fromeareaclt.org
The need for building land is acute, and finding it is not an easy task. There are, however, some prospects that have come to our notice, and we’re working on more ways to increase the options of purchasing or inheriting suitable land. The opportunity for anyone to donate a home, land or other resources in their will is something we’ll soon be working on. If you know of any land that could be suitable, please contact us at https://fairhousingforfrome.org.uk
Tiny Homes is another offshoot of Fair Housing for Frome, and the idea is definitely growing in terms of need as well as popularity. Single parents, an ageing population, (many of whom live alone) and those of us who are choosing a simpler way to live are driving the need for smaller spaces. Whether it’s a shed or a caravan that can be housed in a garden space, an old container that can be converted, maybe even a small self-build option – there are plenty of ideas out there. Due to the coronavirus, our planned event to display and demonstrate much of what Tiny Homes is doing in this area has been postponed now until Sunday 21st March 2021, but there’s still so much going on behind the scenes, so the event, when it comes, should be even more exciting.
We are working hard on your behalf behind the scenes, and would welcome your questions and/or comments on our Frome Housing Notice Board on our FaceBook page
Or by contacting us through our website at https://fairhousingforfrome.org.uk/about-fair-housing-for-frome/contact-us/