T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 29269
posted 02-04-2013 06:05 PM
I haven't posted here in a long time. I hope it's okay that I am now.
I'm just going to jump in with where I am now: last week, I was given 5 days' notice that I had to move out of my house in Manchester tomorrow (Tuesday 5th). I found a place that I could move into Wednesday 6th, but when I went over for a second time to get to know the housemates better tonight, I was told the room wasn't available any more. (That's a recurring theme when I've been looking for housing as a trans woman.) I'm in Manchester at the minute and I'm going to be homeless in the morning. My best friend, a trans man, is letting me stay with him for a few days (unspecified), but it's going to be quite cramped and I don't want to abuse his hospitality. I don't think I am emotionally able to overstay my welcome with him to the point that I have to experience him asking me to leave, although I don't know when that point will be. I'm unemployed and I have very little money. It has been very difficult for me to break into the benefits system in the UK because I am trans, and my name change keeps causing severe delays to me receiving any money. I am getting unemployment payments, finally, so I am able to buy food, but rent is beyond me for now. I really need some advice or resources for being homeless - right now I am trying to pack my things so that less important things are in suitcases that can be stored, and my backpack would have underwear, my favorite clothes, at least one book etc. and some toiletries, and my laptop so I can keep looking for work. I'm trying to think of self care as well as survival. If anyone has advice or resources about street living that would be very useful, although I'm not at that point and I don't think it's a great idea. I do think that knowing how to do it would make me feel less anxious about knowing there's that prospect. Similarly, if anyone has advice about staying on people's couches unobtrusively, and how to minimize irritation so I can stay in one place longer, that would be great. I also don't know if there is any safe way to do sex work as a trans woman who does not have a vagina, and who has breast prostheses. I'm thinking about safety both in terms of not getting killed and in terms of STI risks. I don't think this is a great idea either, though. I also think that in the next week or so I am going to have some risk of suicide or feeling suicidal - I already feel that way a little, and I'm not sure how I can address that given that most of my self-care strategies won't be available to me. I'm going to apply for counselling at the Lesbian and Gay Foundation but the waiting list is months long. I'm not sure if my focus should be on getting a job (which, while it would solve my problems pretty quickly, isn't something I've had any luck with for months now) or finding a place to live (which seems impossible with no money). For real, I also don't know how to find long-term housing as a trans woman. I haven't managed it once yet. Even the trans people I know in houseshares seem to have at least one roommate who appears to resent the idea of a second trans person. I'm not really sure what to do, and just talking here would also be very helpful.
Member # 79774
posted 02-04-2013 06:30 PM
Hey, Djuna. Have you looked into crisis housing/accommodation in the UK generally or around the Manchester queer scene specifically? Just so I don't try looking at anything you've already tried. I'm not going to underestimate the difficulties for a trans woman without a vagina, but I'm thinking there's gotta be Something, and I already have a few thoughts as to where I can start looking on the internet for you.
I'd suggest that sex work, particularly out of necessity rather than real choice, isn't all that safe, as the relevant laws in the UK legislate against things that actually help to improve safety, for example, being able to work out of the same premises as another sex worker. As someone who hasn't been homeless, I might be overstepping here; but the way I understand it, it becomes much harder to get a job if you don't have a secure place to sleep, wash and store your decent clothes, so I'd suggest trying to hold on to secure places to sleep even if it's very temporary and you're basically a nomad from one couch to the next, while you try to find a job. If you have someone who would be willing to provide you with a postal address even if they can't have you stay, that can be important for holding on to things like bank accounts and writing on job applications. Lack of a postal address is one of the things that can help keep a homeless person stuck. Also, if you're getting unemployment benefit (well, Jobseeker's Allowance, I presume), are you also eligible for Housing Benefit? It's not a lot but it'll pay for a crappy bedsit.
Member # 79774
posted 02-04-2013 06:37 PM
And, leading on from that, my very first thought looks good, if you're under 25, which I think you are? Have you tried the Albert Kennedy Trust? They have a number for London and for Manchester, and specifically say LGBT. They also say if you don't have a lot of phone credit, they'll call you back. 0161 228 3308
http://www.akt.org.uk/need-help/i-am-a-young-person.html I'll look out some other stuff for you.
Member # 29269
posted 02-04-2013 06:39 PM
Hi, Redskies. I don't know what crisis housing is available here or if there is any, even.
I think I can get my friend to let me use his address for mail, so I'll make sure to do that. I'm getting Jobseeker's Allowance, yes, and I want to get Housing Benefit but my understanding is that you already have to be living somewhere. I might not be understanding properly, though, and I can look at it again tomorrow, at what happens if you apply and say you're homeless.
Member # 90293
posted 02-04-2013 06:40 PM
IN addition to long-term counselling, does the Lesbian and Gay Foundation also offer things like peer support groups, resource listings, etc? I think that's worth checking out if you haven't already.
Member # 29269
posted 02-04-2013 06:42 PM
And that link looks great, I'll call them tomorrow too.
Member # 29269
posted 02-04-2013 06:48 PM
Robin, I'm not sure, but I can find out. I don't think they have peer support groups but they might have resources.
Member # 20094
posted 02-04-2013 06:52 PM
Seconding the recommendation of Albert Kennedy Trust: they're a really great organisation, and can probably help you out with at least temporary housing.
Also, I don't know how you've been looking for a place to live so far, but some cities have websites for finding housemates/offering a place to live that are specifically targeted towards people who are LGBT. Maybe Manchester has something like that? In the meantime, if you can use your friend's address, that will be very useful, because having a postal address (as Redskies pointed out) is important for a lot of things. I'll have a look around and see what else might be out there, but I'd start by contacting Albert Kennedy Trust if I were you.
Member # 79774
posted 02-04-2013 07:46 PM
Grrr, my internet went down just when I needed it, but I'll look out stuff for you now (provided it holds).
If you haven't investigated emergency/crisis housing options, I'd really, really suggest looking into as many avenues as are available there before you consider things like street living and unwanted sex work. I'll churn out as much info as I can for you now.
moonlight bouncing off water
Member # 44338
posted 02-04-2013 08:07 PM
I don't really have much advise, but in terms of being an unobtrusive couch surfer things like making sure that you keep things neat, cleaning up after yourself and helping with basic chores like cooking can be a major help. (You may have already thought of those things, but I figured I'd throw it out there anyway).
Member # 79774
posted 02-04-2013 09:12 PM
Stuff around housing and benefits gets really, really complex. I strongly suggest you get connected with some experts who will know what does and doesn't apply to your specific situation. It's an absolute pain in the ***, but it's better than you just disappearing down a black hole through not knowing how to even attempt to navigate the system.
I suggest the Citizen's Advice Bureau for advice on benefits and housing. They're there to help people, and they're also supposed to help with discrimination, so if anyone there has a problem with you being trans, they want their heads banging together. There are a number of centres in Manchester; this should be the link to the search page that lists them http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice.htm?txt_search=Manchester&image=Search These places tend to be very busy and overbooked, but they usually allow for some walk-ins too, so I'd call them first thing in the morning and tell them you're in an emergency situation and becoming homeless. Indeed you can't claim housing benefit if you're not paying any accommodation costs, but I'm sure there's a way this whole thing works where you can look for somewhere to live knowing that you'll be paying (or part-paying) using housing benefit, and so the housing benefit is set up to go as soon as you need to pay costs. There is some social housing in the UK where the housing benefit goes straight to the landlord (whether that's a private landlord or a public housing organisation) and not through you, so your eligibility for housing benefit would definitely be a good thing to investigate right away. It would radically change the potential affordability of places to live, I'm guessing. (I do have to add that there's a problem here in that some landlords specifically advertise "No DSS" which basically means, no-one on housing benefit; this obviously makes things harder and is generally crummy.) (Just to put it on your radar, if you find somewhere to live and you're getting some of these benefits, you're probably also eligible for Council Tax Benefit, which is a reduction or elimination of the council tax someone in that property would usually pay. Here's a link about that, just so it's here if you need it in the future http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/your_money/benefits/help_with_your_council_tax_council_tax_benefit.htm ) Here's some info on Housing Benefit http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/your_money/benefits/help_with_your_rent_-_housing_benefit.htm Also, I hate to say this, but if you're claiming Jobseeker's, be really, really careful to stick to the letter of what's required of you, or they're likely to stop your payments. Make sure you know the regulations yourself, because sometimes Jobcentre staff do not do a good enough job of helping people know and understand. There are even suggestions that some of this is happening structurally and deliberately so that less money is paid out. http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/your_money/benefits/benefits_for_people_looking_for_work.htm I know that all this official stuff is about the last thing you need when you're having difficulty managing. It's ok if you can't go into it all now; these links are here for whenever you feel up to it. I'd feel I wasn't being responsible by you if I didn't give you a head's-up about this official stuff. For info on housing and homelessness, you can also call these people: Shelter, 0808 800 4444 free from 8am. http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/how_we_can_help/housing_advice_helpline They have more info here http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/homelessness I'm afraid I don't know if these folk are trans-friendly or not, or even LGB-friendly, but they do have a good reputation for helping homeless folk generally, I believe. There's some helpful-looking links from here http://www.thesite.org/homelawandmoney/home/homelessness/helpiamhomeless and here http://www.thesite.org/homelawandmoney/home/homelessness/legallyhomeless I hope that's not overload. If you find you need help finding specific information in a document or figuring out exactly what applies to you and the experts aren't available, feel free to post a link or say specifically what you need on here; I've got an eye for small print and wading through official stuff to find what I need, and I'll help if I can. That's enough for now; more info of a different type coming up.
Member # 79774
posted 02-04-2013 09:53 PM
So, just with a quick google, I found a few trans resources and communities around Manchester. Are you already connected with these? It might be a good way to find housemates who actually want you to live with them; or alternatively, sympathetic and safer people who'll put you up temporarily until you're on your feet, because they've been there and know how hard it is.
http://www.transforum.org.uk/ http://www.manchesterconcord.org.uk/ http://transcentre.org.uk/ For trans youth: http://www.lgym.org.uk/transweb/ and http://www.lgbtyouthnorthwest.org.uk/for-young-people/afternoon-tea/ and for LGBT youth (under 25) in Manchester http://www.lgbtyouthnorthwest.org.uk/for-young-people/lgbt-youth-manchester/ Do you like walking? http://manchestertransramblers.webeden.co.uk/ Swimming? http://www.marlin.org.uk/ (Note to google: no, I was not looking for information on the Trans Pennine Trail or the trans-Pennine train service. Thank you anyway... ) [ 02-04-2013, 10:01 PM: Message edited by: Redskies ]