My son and I have found ourselves in a humble housing association flat over a greasy spoon café, with a few too many plants and a lovely rug, which make anywhere feel like a picture.
Sadly, they're selling the flat soon. They said within the year. They knew this months before I moved in, months before I signed a 10-year lease. They knew that section 21 meant that the lease was meaningless. They knew that I could be moved on legally without interrupting the sale of their asset.
This will be move number 22 in my 40 years of life. I've been reassured that this is standard practice in the social housing system, and after navigating the unavoidable court case, the council will be obliged to put me in what they deem to be "suitable" temporary accommodation.
Do I now have to accept the fate of visiting bailiffs and court hearings? Of unknown statutes on where I might be put? I have worked tirelessly to house my son and me somewhere safe and somewhere we can call home, and I find it unforgivingly needless when most of the moves I’ve endured are due to sales and rent hikes. I have paid in excess of £150,000 in rent in my lifetime, and that, in turn, has paid for the security of others, our landlords, but it has left very little for us.
A lot has changed since my last eviction and fundraiser, outlined in No Dogs, No Kids, No Benefits. The most painful part of that is walking by that home we were evicted from and seeing it still empty. Propelled by that frustration, I hope to own my own home one day and to do this, I have been advised to have a basic income of at least 65K. My career as an artist has yet to provide that for me, so I have secured a job, and I will climb that ladder as best I can. What I know for certain is that I need to carve out some semblance of calm and stability for my little family. Much of the time, it’s just me and him, which is a sobering thought.
This picture is for sale for a £ Secure home. I have dedicated months of my life to battling the private and public housing sectors, only to face exactly the same circumstances time and time again. I have gained full-time employment, I now have some savings, I have a better credit rating, and my income is more stable than ever, but I feel no closer to being eligible for a home for my son to grow up in.
I don't mind renting, but I'd love to buy somewhere. My simple hope is that one day I will find somewhere permanent. I want to stay in one place. I want a family doctor, a family dentist and to be registered to vote. I haven't voted in 2 years due to the amount I've been forced to move. I want my son to know his neighbours. I have created a beautiful home wherever we move; I've got so good at making it look like a home-sweet home in just a week, sometimes less. It's exciting for him, but moving breaks my spirit a little more each time. My son knows I'll keep him safe, and he’ll continue to enjoy every drop of life with his mum in whatever colourful little box we call home.
It feels like the system is rigged against us. How did a home, a basic requirement like air, food or water, become such an unattainable thing? But my story is sadly not at all unusual or extreme. In writing this, I write for thousands of families in similar situations who simply want to be healthy and settled in their communities.
What on earth do we all need to do to stay put?