Oh, Katie love.
I am going to come out and say that I don’t disagree with everything you say. You do have some good points about many things but your views on housing aren’t one of them.
I wonder what you’d think of me if you met me?
You’d like me. I scrub up well, I am intelligent, I’m friendly and I’m funny (although I am fat. I’m not sure you’d like that). I’d tell you that I am a writer too and we’d probably chat about things we both agree on. We might even have a laugh about certain people that we both know socially and you’d probably think that I was an all round, middle class good egg who would be trotting back off to my three bed semi in suburbia at the end of the evening to chill out on my John Lewis sofa.
In reality Katie, I’d be heading home to my rented house that I am in constant fear of being pulled from under my feet.
Because Katie, if my landlord decided that he wanted his property back, or that he would like to increase the rent, I would be fucked.
Fucked because I am one of the people you don’t like. The people who have to rely on handouts from the government to pay the rent. Yes Katie, I am a housing benefit claimant. Or, benefit scum as it’s more widely known, and because of that, no one wants to rent a house to me. I was beyond lucky to find this house. I had to grit my teeth and beg to be allowed to rent it. It was actually soul destroying and humiliating. I had to pay double the deposit ‘just incase’. They wouldn’t tell me what the ‘just incase’ meant, but I knew.
You know that perfectly polite woman you would have met and who you would have liked? Well, just because I need help paying the rent, I am seen as a scumbag.
Claiming housing benefit automatically makes me the sort of person who will trash your house, deal drugs from the kitchen and let my pitbull tear your sofa to pieces (I don’t have a pitbull, just two elderly cats). That’s the perception and it is how I am seen by estate agents. Even though I am a nice, well presented person who works, they sneer at me and tell me “sorry, no DSS” when I enquire about a property to rent.
I need financial help because even though I am educated and I work (like the majority of housing benefit claimants), I still can’t afford the horrendous cost of private renting. In my area the rental cost of a three bedroom property is £2,500 per month. Estate agents want you to be earning three times that amount before they will even let you through the door. So it’s unsurprising that people need help to cover the cost of renting.
Yes, I could move to a cheaper area.
I could move to the Midlands. I could take my child from his life and his school through no one else fault but mine. But if we all moved out to cheaper areas, who would be left in London? Oh yes, the clever ones who got off their arses and earned higher wages.
I know your tweet was aimed more at people in social housing.
You know, the scumbags who get free houses! Only they don’t get free houses. They pay rent; it’s just a fair rent. The majority of people in social housing are working too. I’d love to be able to have a housing association home, because at least then, I wouldn’t have the permanent worry of “what if my landlord wants his house back” hanging over my head. I have tried to get on the housing list in my borough, but I have been told that I don’t qualify.
Do you know what the funniest thing is though Katie?
I used to be stinking rich. I used to sit in my huge house with my Land Rover parked on the sweeping, gravel driveway feeling smug in between round the world trips. I might have looked down on people being rehoused after the Grenfell fire. Truth be told, I was a little bit of an entitled cunt, so I would have probably seen them on the TV and jeered that they should be fucking grateful to be rehoused in a shithole in Glasgow. I look back at how I was a few years ago and I cringe. I was a nasty, mean spirited person.
Actually, I think I would have looked down on someone like me. I would have thought they were stupid, feckless, they should have planned their life better. Those fat scumbags who eat oven chips from Iceland and live off government handouts.
Do you know what? I was an idiot and it took losing everything I had to make me appreciate that people are people and you can’t judge them for where they are or what they have in life.
Please love, don’t tar everyone with the same brush.