As I started to need housing with wheelchair access, my parents stepped up to the plate. Lucky for me, as a three year old would’ve struggled to organise such a thing. We left our typical family house and moved to a bungalow. It had ramps and I was free to roam wherever I chose to.
When I left home to go to university, I spent the whole fours years in Coventry in halls. To find an accessible, adapted and affordable property was deemed too difficult. So halls it was.
Once I’d graduated and found a job, I spent a year back home. That is until I landed a job to take me to London. A lifelong dream. My house search started with smiles and a metaphorical skip in my step. Until…
My first accommodation tactic was around spare rooms in London. That’s what other young professionals did. I used Gumtree and lined up a bunch of viewings. I travelled from Cambridgeshire to London 3 or 4 times to view many rooms. I was far from picky, eager to find somewhere, and you know what — nothing was suitable for a disabled person. Worse still, after being told they were wheelchair accessible, many places had steps to the front door. Let alone more steps up to the room.
I changed tactic and started using estate agents. I focused on renting my own flat. It would be better for my needs and my carers. Maybe it would be a blessing is disguise. The rent would be higher, but a price I’d have to pay in my situation.
A couple of weeks passed. I viewed a few properties, but they were either inaccessible or unaffordable. Time was ticking. My job was starting. I had nowhere to live.
Fortunately a colleague in London was looking for flats and shared his findings. A housing association were offering newly built flats (meaning better accessibility from the building regulations). I found a 2 bed flat in North London. It’d need the bathroom adapting, but it’d work!
The one snag was I had to part-own it. It was my only solution though. So aged 24 I purchased 30% on a flat. I’d no idea if I’d like London, let alone this particular neighbourhood. However it was my last chance to live that dream of mine. So I took it.
Fortunately I did like London. Despite a couple of gang murders, I also loved the neighbourhood. It had diversity, culture and great bars. Phew.
After six or so years I left my job, started travelling the world, and had less need for London’s crazyness and my flat. So upon looking to rent in Cambridge I had the same issues. More recently still I wanted to buy in Cambridgeshire. The same problems again.
So whilst there is a positive — I always found a place to live. It was always so difficult, so tiring and so much more expensive.
Naturally we urge more properties, agencies and organisations to improve access and affordability. However today we know this guide will help join the dots for lots of disabled people.
To download the guide just head to our article here. If you are in a hurry, head straight to the sign up widget, and pop your email in. It’s free to do, and you’ll get your guide to keep forever.
Don’t forget to share your housing stories on social media with @dhorizons. Like with the care post last week, awareness raising is so vital.