“When it comes to sitting down to talk about tenancy and move ons… the council say, here’s your place, you’re taking it. If you don’t take it, you’ll be back on the streets again, and there’s no leeway, no negotiation.”
In cases where organisations provided both housing management and support, practitioners talked about how hard it was to be seen as separate from the housing management side of their organisation. People explained that much of their time was spent talking about housing management issues and this impacted on their ability to focus on providing strength-based support. Examples may include rules and regulations, rent arrears or areas that are specifically housing management related that clash with a strength-based approach.
“ I find it is unavoidable because I carry the label of being part of my organisation. So, when I sit down and meet people to talk about separate things, housing unavoidably comes up because they naturally associate me with others who are managing their housing and that just becomes entangled into the conversation.”
Practitioners shared that housing issues were one of the biggest barriers to being truly strength-based. It was felt that some of the people they were working with wanted to focus on securing housing, but they were being forced to engage in support that didn’t seem relevant to them. While we were unable to substantiate the claim, the feeling from practitioners was that councils’ approach was to work through lists to house people but that the people on those lists were not being listened to. They spoke about people being pushed into unsuitable properties with the expectation that they should be grateful.
“When people have a lot going on and have an immediate housing need the work can become or feel like fixing, this is sometimes exacerbated when working over the phone rather than face to face”
Strength-based working may be compromised where practitioners are seen as part of the housing and management provision. Unsuitable housing offers can get in the way of people focusing on other areas of their lifes or getting stuck in the system e.g. where the only offer is supported housing which comes with a requirement to access the support, irrespective of whether it is needed.