Sunday, 16 June 2013

Housing charity to `means test` the homeless?


Can you afford me?
warning for those in need

A new warning to prospective tenants of Riverside Housing Association is highlighted in a letter to the Editor of the Cumberland News, Carlisle.  Prospective tenants now have to complete  an Affordability Assessment before they can be considered.
Will homeless families also have to complete this affordability assessment asks the writer of the letter, Mr Malcolm Craik of Brampton, a former member of the governing board of Riverside`s Carlisle Housing Association.
Mr Craik`s letter, which has not yet been published, is reproduced here:
“Councillor Betton is to be congratulated for highlighting Riverside Housing Association`s plans to demolish more one bedroomed homes in Borland Avenue, Botcherby, Carlisle at a time when benefit reform is forcing disadvantaged residents to downsize. Perhaps he and his councillor colleagues may now  facilitate the provision of the new one bedroomed homes that the City so desperately needs and which Riverside won’t provide.
In 2002, Riverside, a social housing charity, took over the city`s council houses and promised to improve the housing stock in our city and provide fair rents. Despite this, the housing stock is now seriously mismatched with local need and rents have risen by around £20 per week more than rents for similar social housing in Barrow in Furness.
The City Council’s nomination rights with Riverside Carlisle, which provide the city with the means of reducing its homelessness, appear to be under threat as Riverside continues to seek to reduce its housing stock. Former city council tenants have recently received correspondence from Riverside promoting the discounts available if they wish to buy their homes.  This promotion at such a difficult time may further reduce homes available for rent in Carlisle.
Riverside’s Botchergate shop window has begun displaying a warning to prospective tenants. “Can you afford me?” it states and adds that prospective tenants will be asked to complete an “Affordability Assessment” before a home can be offered. Councillor Betton may care to investigate if this apparent means testing will also apply to homeless families nominated to Riverside by the city council”
Councillor Betton continues his campaign by collecting signatures for a petition against the demolition. He tells Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation that there is considerable demand in Carlisle for one-bedroom accommodation, totalling sixty per cent of  all applicants for social housing.
Councillor Betton has met the city M.P., Mr John Stevenson. Mr Stevenson is now writing to Riverside expressing surprise at the demolition plans.
Information about Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation is contained in the first entry of this blog, dated March 25

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