Friday, February 09, 2007

Day 170

Those receiving benefit have a bad name. We all get lumped into the same untrustworthy bundle. Junkies, mentalists and the disabled…all mushed up together, regardless of circumstance.

I remember, when I was at my town’s local college before doing my degree, we “artists” were on a remote campus away from the main college; a gripe my lecturers always took as a personal snub from the board of education. We had crap facilities and were never taken seriously. We were later joined in our annexe, by a group of disabled students with severe mental health problems. While we were there, being tragic in our paint-splattered dungarees, taking ourselves way to seriously and self-harming because it was the “done thing”, they were being found trying to have sex with each other in the craft cupboard. Apparently the college sponsors didn’t like having such things so openly on view on the main campus. Best save the good seats for the employable. Non?

Today I found myself, back in the annexe with the others. I have looked at and called pretty much every letting agency in the city this week, trying to find myself a new home, but 'Housing' and 'Benefit' are dirty words and agencies and landlords alike don’t want to know. The nice areas are a no-no for the unemployed, sick or disabled so you have to be prepared to live in the areas where your head gets bottled of an evening and your cat gets a firework shoved up its arse if you dare to let it out. You have to want to live in flats where the close windows are all smashed in, where people lean on your buzzer all night long because their dealer won’t answer and they want in.

I sat outside a flat I was hoping to view today with the agent telling me I was an “unacceptable” tenant because I am currently on benefit and that she wouldn’t let me see the property I had previously been told I was entirely suitable for. Apparently the landlord had once had a tenant who was on benefit that didn’t pay their rent, so never again would a person receiving benefit darken his doorstep. It doesn’t matter that I have references coming out of my ears, or that I pay my rent every month, on time and have done so for the last 10 years. Or that I leave flats I vacate on excellent terms with my landlords. Or leave the flats immaculate before I leave. No, no, Sir, just because you have always done the right thing, you prissy little kiss-ass, that doesn’t matter at all because if you receive benefit you are untrustworthy scum, “just like the rest of them.”

Apparently it is too much to ask for a mattress without cum stains on it. And even if I do find somewhere, cum stains or not, my Mummy and Daddy have to write the landlord a letter, telling them they promise to pay the rent if I turn out to be the low-life, rent dodger they expected me to be.

Today I was made to feel dirty, irresponsible and untrustworthy and above all un-house-able. And then I cried.

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