A Marriage of Convenience
There was an outside chance that while I was away, the fates would smile on us and I’d come back to find a potential new place for Nick to live. It was a gleam of hope.
I hadn’t told him because it was a bit too good to be true and I hadn’t wanted to get his hopes up, but last week the housing officer had made a bid on a property on our behalf.
She’d found a sweet little flat, less than a ten-minute walk from here. She said it hadn’t got any other bidders because it was advertised as part furnished which was likely to put a lot of people off. I thought we could get around that and the main thing was the possibility of an accessible ground floor property within easy walking distance, but now the closing date has gone and so has the property.
Why? I couldn’t understand, if there were no other bidders and the housing officer herself had intervened on our behalf, but I had not counted on the mysteries of the organism. Over the course of each week, people bid for available properties and even if you’re number one in line at the beginning of the week, someone else’s eligibility status may throw you off the top position. It really is like bidding on Ebay, and I’ve never been much cop at that.
I rang the housing officer. It turns out that a “match has been found”.
It sounds like a message from a dating agency! It seems Nick has been accepted for another property that we’d bid on in semi desperation a couple of weeks ago. My heart sinks a bit because in comparison to the one within walking distance, this is a flat in a not very nice part of town a good twenty minutes’ drive away. What were we thinking? And let’s face it, there isn’t really a we involved because Nick doesn’t really know Sheffield, can’t use the computer anymore and although I've asked him every step of the way, it’s been hard to engage him in the process. He looks at the pictures on the council website then says he’s happy to leave me to it. So what was I thinking? Beggars can't be choosers, is what, in the middle of angry complaints from landlord and Nick's neighbours and the urgent threat of actual homelessness - yes, even for a severely impaired and vulnerable person.
The housing officer had said that there was an emergency facility if all else failed, "but you really wouldn't want him to go there." She sounds grim. I imagine Nick in a cross between a Salvation Army hostel and Calais. Frankly, I just have to be grateful that he's being offered a decent roof over his head.
But this place? I’m really having second thoughts. However, the match has been made and we’ll just have to see if sparks fly and hearts beat faster. My words not theirs. I don’t think the council algorithms are very romantic. In my mind, it’s more like an arranged marriage.
What happens next is that the council OT will make a visit to assess the property’s suitability for Nick’s needs. I’m kind of hoping she’ll find that it has secret steps that hadn’t been noted in the property listings, and that the bathroom has not been adapted, and she’ll recommend that we go elsewhere.
But time is ticking on. Nick has to leave the flat he’s in now by the end of November and we have just over a month to find him a new home.