Sunday, March 25, 2007

Liverpool condemns homeless families to up to six months stay in hostels

According to the latest reports on the Key Performance Indicators for Health and Adult Care in Liverpool, we are now running at an average of 24.6 weeks for a family to stay in a homeless hostel.

I think that is desperate

It breaks my heart

Hostels are dreadful, even the ones that are run by people with enormous compassion and care and thoughtfulness and attention to detail. It is no way to live, especially not with children.

Every week I get at least three new housing cases from families with children who are in dire housing need and who face a lengthy hostel stay without my help. And often I cannot help them, much though I wish I could.

There are about 20,000 people on the waiting list - well there was until the council wrote to them all earlier in the year and struck off everyone who did not reply. There is probably only a fraction of that number now. (I thought that was a terribly cynical act. The key thing about people on housing waiting lists is that they are in need of a home, they are often transient, living on other people's goodwill - and their sofas - they are by their very nature unlikely to still live at the address they were at when they registered to go on the housing waiting list. How very unkind to turf them off the list just because they didnt respond to a letter they probably never got).

The problem is that there is nowhere to put any of them. Thousands of houses remain boarded up or tinned up across the city while developers seem only to build apartments.

Prescot Road houses could have taken 30 families or more, had the council not told the Housing Association to empty them all and keep them empty, some four years ago, because "one day they might like to develop that stretch of the road."

Edge Lane West is a continuing shambles that shames the council in its inability to come to any resolution with opponents of the planned CPOs.

The big new development on Gilead Street has not been started, nor has the other big new development on Lomond Road.

Do you sense a pattern here?

Jane Kennedy called it social cleansing, and that was several years ago, what expression would we now use to describe the ongoing failure to build new homes or modernise existing homes in Kensington and Fairfield?

Perhapds I dont have her turn of phrase so I am fumbling for something equally descriptive and apt, but whatever you call it, one thing is for certain, it is heart-breaking and totally inexcusable.


Ian Lewis said...

Regeneration Apartheid seems apt. I'm surprised you haven't won the ward back sooner, looking at how Cllr. Highbrow performs...


Kevin said...

i have some dealing with The LCC homeless familues team and from experince I belive they absoultley deliberatly try to put people off making a homless application by advising there may be up to "an 18 month sty in a hostel" a situation most familes would (righty) find intolerable.

I have also visted all teh hostels (aigburth drive, langtree) and foud the staff to be helpful and caring but they are desperate places.

This is without even mentioning the LCC policy of putting vulnerabel familes in teh most rundown basic of "hotels" in Lpool when (frequently) there is no hostel space.

Louise Baldock said...

Kevin, I think you are absolutely right about the staff who try their very best.

Unfortunately you are also right about the awful places we put people into, some of which are in Kensington and Fairfield.

I know that money is tight and so on, there is always an excuse for the party in power to make, but I dont see any political will to sort this out and that is what is the most painful.

Nobody seems bothered.

Laurence W said...

Hi Louise

I was wondering if you could help me out. I'm writing a play set within the Kensington district, it is for 20 Stories High Theatre Company and will tour schools and youth clubs in and around Liverpool next year, as well as some other venues, such as Contact in Manchester. I am not from the area myself and I'm doing a lot of research to try and get things right. The family home the play is set around is in one of the homes on Prescot Road that you mention here. Most of the houses as you know are tinned but there are few with residents still in them. Can you tell me how it is that they have managed to keep hold of their homes? That way I can have the same reason for my family and and in so doing keeping it factual.
The regeneration is a backdrop to the piece but the main story is a more emotional and personal rights of passage piece about a young girl, living in the area.

Any help will be greatly apreciated

Laurence Wilson

Louise Baldock said...

Hi Laurence

I am happy to help and can put you in touch with residents or explain their situation to you.

Please email me on louise dot baldock at liverpool dot gov uk

Laurence W said...

Thanks Louise

I've emailed you.