“No one will help me”: Disabled Lancing woman’s housing despair

Susan Collier feels let down by the lack of support
Susan Collier feels let down by the lack of support

A 30-year-old woman with disabilities, who has nowhere to live, has spoken of her despair at being considered either too disabled or not disabled enough to receive support with housing.

Susan Collier, who suffers from fibromyalgia, asthma, anxiety and depression, said: “I’m basically in the middle of everything, waiting and waiting.

Susan has been sofa-surfing for nine weeks

Susan has been sofa-surfing for nine weeks

“I need help and I don’t know where to turn.”

For the last nine weeks, after she had to leave her ex-partner’s home, Susan has been staying temporarily with various friends and family members in Lancing.

But she said: “If I’m asked to leave, I have nowhere to go.”

With no one to act as her guarantor, and unable to afford six months’ rent upfront, Susan turned to the council for support.

Even though I’m a vulnerable person, no one seems to want to help me.

Susan Collier

A housing officer referred her to Southdown Housing Association but, after months of waiting for an interview, she was told that her support needs were ‘not great enough to meet their criteria’.

Susan was then referred to the YMCA and, after another interview, she was told her support needs were ‘too much for their criteria’.

The final straw came when the council told Susan that she is not ‘in priority need for emergency accommodation’ if she finds herself with nowhere to stay.

She said: “Even though I’m a vulnerable person, no one seems to want to help me.”

Susan has received housing benefits since her poor health forced her to leave her job of five years at Millie’s Cookies in Brighton.

“I can’t work but not through lack of trying,” said Susan, who dreams of helping others and running as a councillor one day.

She feels she is being discriminated against because of her disabilities.

A spokesman for Adur District Council said: “The council will provide interim accomodation to anyone who is homeless where the person is considered to be in priority need.

“The test for priority need is defined by law.

“The council acts in accordance with the Equality Act 2010, and does not discriminate on the basis of disability.

“Each case is assessed based on its own facts and advice provided accordingly.

“Not all single people will meet the priority need criteria.

“Where a person has specific needs, we will refer them to organisations we believe can assist them.”

The spokesman continued: “Our Housing Solutions Service provides advice and support to anyone who is homeless or at risk of losing their home regardless of whether they are owed a statutory duty or not.

“The level of assistance we offer will depend on individual circumstances, but we will look at all the housing options available including referrals to other organisations such as Southdown and YMCA if considered appropriate for that individual.”

The council has since offered Susan a loan of £600 towards a deposit for a property, but Susan said it was not enough to help her.