It was all going so well. I was being shown around a semi derelict house by a housing association and the local council. It had been empty for twenty years and had recently emerged from behind a thicket of undergrowth that the council had just cleared. Not only could I now see the house, but I could see what was going to happen to it, the council had persuaded the owner to lease it to a housing association who would renovate it and deduct their costs off the rent for a couple of years.
For no cost to the owner and not much cost to the public purse, the house would once again become somebody’s home; and not only that, an affordable home for somebody in housing need. I was feeling good. Then the bombshell; it was just a short remark slipped into a question. “Of course we will have to choose somebody who won’t be seeking work.”
“ If they find work it will all unravel.”
“ Housing benefit pays far better than they will be able to afford if they get a job”
And there it was, the housing poverty trap. Promise to stay unemployed and you can have a nice roomy newly renovated house, think about getting a job and you’ll have to stay in crappy cheap temporary council housing.
What is happening to the empty house is wonderful, but system it is done within stinks.