Hemel resident criticises council's housing system after moving 71 places down the list after three years of bidding

Dacorum Borough Council says points are awarded on the household circumstances

Thursday, 17th December 2020, 1:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th December 2020, 1:16 pm

A woman from Hemel Hempstead has criticised the council's bidding system after moving 71 places down the list after three years of bidding.

Michelline Howard, of Woodlane End, says over the last few months she has gone from 17 in the waiting list down to 88.

She says since June, there have been six of them - her two daughters and three grandchildren - living in her two bedroom flat.

The living area with wardrobes where Michelline sleeps

Dacorum Borough Council says points are awarded on the household circumstances and only 'permanent' members of a household will be considered for rehousing.

Michelline said: "I cannot deal with living like this for much longer. We are not even being considered to move into a three bedroom house.

"We are so far down the list since the council took on 50 refuge families that it means we are not going to get into a 3 bedroom house for some more years.

"We went from position 17 to position 88 on the waiting list. We've already been waiting three years!

The double bedroom shared by Michelline's two daughters and granddaughter

"Why take on 50 refugee families when the council cannot even deal with housing the number of families already on the waiting list and this pushed us families already waiting years further down and out of housing priority.

"I know the pandemic has made it difficult for the council but I don't understand how I can go down 71 positions in the waiting list.

"By the time our bid is considered with the right points position I may either be in a retirement home, or a mental ward or dead.

"The living situation with my two daughters - who are 24 and 18 - and three grandchildren from my other daughter, is stressful for all of us and causing emotional issues with the three children.

"Social services have had an interim care order since September with the condition they live with me, their grandmother.

"It's ridiculous, my daughters and I have been on the bidding list for three years, before the grandchildren came to stay with me.

"I was led to believe that we could be rehoused to a 3 bedroom as we are already one bed space short.

"It's not fair to my youngest daughter as she has had to give up her bed to the boys and sleep with her sister and her niece in the bigger room which is not ideal, and I'm in the living room.

"I'm not asking for a 5-bedroom house, I just want we have been bidding for - a three-bedroom house.

"This situation is breaking up my family. Isn't overcrowding unlawful/unethical with the council.

"The council say I have already been given the lacking bedroom space points, but why have I moved 70 positions down the list?

"As it is, we are listed as short one bed space yet we cannot get to a favourable position bidding on the housing register because of this useless points system.

"The council says the points system is fair, but I do not believe it is.

"How is that justifiable or fair? Why can't we have a house? Why do other families in similar situations get priority?"

A spokesperson for Dacorum Borough Council said: "In relation to the housing of refugees, all households applying to the council’s housing register must meet the criteria within the Allocations Policy, one of which is the requirement to demonstrate 10 years residence, permanent employment or family association within the Dacorum area.

"We cannot discuss individual cases, however when an applicant applies to join our housing register, points are awarded on the household circumstances in line with the policy which is published on our website.

"The Allocations Policy confirms that only ‘permanent’ members of a household will be considered for rehousing.

"Where an applicant’s circumstances change and a new household member joins, it is the applicant’s responsibility to provide the relevant supporting information to enable the application to be assessed.

"If another organisation is involved in supporting a household, the council will accept information from this organisation confirming permanent changes to the household circumstances, in the absence of such information the council cannot rely on verbal updates to support the changes.

"The council retains and manages stock of just over 10,000 properties of varied types/size.

"Currently there are over 5,500 households on the council’s active housing register, who are eligible to bid for accommodation.

"The council’s housing register is not a housing waiting list and applicants therefore do not hold a specific queue position.

"When an empty council or registered provider property is advertised, all eligible applicants are able to bid for the property, the council does not have control over whether an eligible applicant bids and therefore this can mean each time an applicant bids for a property their position will change, as it is dependent on other applicants bidding and their respective points.

"Once a shortlist closes the property is allocated to the applicant with the highest housing need who is verified to meet all criteria.

"Unfortunately the council is unable to determine how long it will be before a household is successful in bidding for a property, for the reasons previously mentioned."