The Government has failed to publish the long-awaited Green Paper on social housing before summer recess, despite repeated promises to outline and consult on plans to tackle the current crisis. This preliminary report was due to set out what the Government intends to do to improve social housing, and mental health charity Mind was hoping to see it specifically address the issues faced by people with mental health problems living in, or waiting for, social housing.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, said:“It’s hugely concerning that the Government has failed to deliver this report on social housing, another instance of people with mental health problems being let down. We had hoped to find out exactly how the Government intends to tackle the social housing crisis which affects a huge amount of people with mental health problems.
“Around one in three people who live in social housing have a mental health problem and there is a strong relationship between housing and mental health. You’re more likely to experience problems with your home if you have a mental health problem and, equally, your mental health can be affected by your housing.
“We know there are a huge number of housing issues affecting our members, campaigners and supporters, whether it’s facing long waits to get a home, being exposed to poor quality homes affected by things like mould, damp and overcrowding, living in fear of being evicted or struggling to keep up with rent. Failing to publish this document indicates social housing is not been given the priority it deserves by Government. People are in dire housing situations now and can’t wait another couple of months for action – and we’re concerned that the Government will release it quietly over the summer, losing the opportunity to have a national conversation about social housing.
“The extra time the department now has to work on the Green Paper must be used effectively – it’s a chance for them to ensure that mental health is front and centre of their plan to improve social housing, and we’ll be making sure they do just that. This is a huge opportunity for them to make sure the Green Paper is the game-changer the country needs.”
Chika is 53 and lives in Hampshire. She spent five years living in a housing association property that left her with severe mental health problems. The living conditions were terrible and unsafe – she was subjected to damp and mould and the front door to the building was constantly being kicked in. In addition, antisocial behaviour on her doorstep was common, with drug dealers and drug users often leaving needles, blood and vomit on the stairs. Some nights she slept in her car because she just couldn’t be at home.
She says: “I started going downhill fast and became suicidal. I couldn’t concentrate, I was constantly crying, angry, unable to make decisions. I ended up in A&E unable to breathe – I thought I was going to die. I was having a panic attack. A safe, secure home is one of the most basic needs we have, but when I complained, nothing changed. I ended up taking the housing authority to court just to get repairs done.
“I finally moved to a new place earlier this year, and I feel so much better. It’s going to take a while for me to get back to being a happy, confident person. Every sound at night still makes me jump. I struggle to sleep, but very slowly my sleep patterns are improving. I’m a fighter.”