"It had a bad impact on my mental health. I was even crying myself to sleep at night – it was that bad."
Richard turned to privately-run supported accommodation when he had nowhere else to go.
He had been living in a council flat in Coventry, but was having lots of problems with the property. “There was sex work, drug abuse, people sleeping in stairways, dirty needles. I left to keep myself safe.”
Bad quality housing, badly managed
“The kitchen and the lounge were shared, but I hardly used to come out of my room. If I did it was to do my washing or to use my bathroom for a shower. The place was disgusting. There were rats in the back garden.”
“It wasn’t a nice house at all. There was a load of repairs that needed doing. I was reporting the repairs, and nothing was getting done.”
“My food was being robbed out of the fridge. Even the roof was falling in. I’ve got OCD and I could not use the shower, and I was going other places to wash, so I never actually felt clean.”
Richard didn’t feel safe there.
Some of the other residents were causing disturbances. It was supposed to be a male only house, but one of the residents’ partners moved in, and there were instances of sexual assault. They were holding parties, taking drugs, and harassing the neighbours.
Richard had to pay £15.00 a week service charges, on top of the housing benefit the provider received.
“It was supposed to have been for my gas, water, electric and TV licence.” But he found that they weren’t paying the bills. “There was no TV licence registered. When I rang the water company about the bill, they told me that the property was down as empty.”
Richard had been told when he moved in that the housing provider would support him to look for more permanent accommodation, and support staff would be in touch with him regularly.
“But there was no support at all. They only came out to the house to collect the service charge money. They were useless.”
“It had a bad impact on my mental health. I was even crying myself to sleep at night – it was that bad.”
A safe place to stay
“The place sent me off my head and this is when I went to Crisis. They got me into a better place.”
“Crisis are actually helping me. They rang me to find out what I needed. One day, they told me that they’d found me temporary accommodation. I moved in the same day.”
Now he has appropriate support and somewhere safe to stay, Richard’s mental health has improved.
“I’m actually feeling much better myself. I can go back to where I’m living now and I know there’s going to be no issues or problems. My new place is clean, my food is safe, I’m not being robbed. I lost a close member of my family just before Christmas but I’m on medication now and I’m with a new psychiatrist. I’m actually getting some help.”
With the support of Crisis and his psychiatrist, Richard has now got the council to recognise him as a priority. He has just heard that he will be offered a permanent home soon.
Everybody has the right to a safe home
While Richard has now moved out of the supported accommodation he was living in, he has concerns for the people still living there.
“There are young people in there being used as prostitutes, there are drugs. It’s still being managed by the same people – but if you were on the street now, you could walk in there and do what you like. One of the lads who used to live there had his bedroom door smashed off with a hammer.”
“Everybody has the right to a good, decent house and to be safe. They need to sort out these types of properties and make sure everything is done properly. Don’t say you’re going to help people and then do nothing - it’s not fair.”
Regulate the Rogues is Crisis’ campaign to stop rogue landlords exploiting people who need housing and support to leave homelessness behind.
Everyone should have a safe home that meets their needs.
But thousands of people experiencing homelessness who require additional support are being housed in unsafe, squalid homes by rogue landlords who aren’t providing the help they’re being paid - with public money - to provide.
That’s why we’re calling on the UK Government to step in and regulate the rogues. Sign up to the campaign here and find out how you can be involved.
By sharing stories we can change attitudes and build a movement for permanent, positive change. Stand against homelessness and help us end it for good.