Reunited through SimpliCity

A firefighter and his family have finally got the chance to live together under the same roof thanks to SimpliCity.

The pilot scheme, run by Notting Hill Housing, offers homes at discounted rents to families who cannot easily access social housing but cannot afford suitable properties on the open market.

This summer, David Ellis moved into a three bedroom house in Bentry Road, Dagenham, with partner Michelle McGee, their one year old daughter Beau and Michelle’s children Reid, 10, and 17-year-old twins Callum and Taylor.

Until then, they’d been forced to live separately despite having a baby together.

David said: “Because of my wage the council deemed we didn’t meet the criteria for support, but we couldn’t afford a place together in this area.

“I was forced to live apart from them because if I was seen going in and out of the house regularly, they would deem I was living there and Michelle would have lost her support. It meant I was staying at my mum’s or aunt’s.

“It was really hard for us, and looking through Rightmove wasn’t throwing up anything cheaper, and we couldn’t move further out because of the children’s schooling.

“Then we saw a SimpliCity property in Broad Street, Dagenham, and applied for that. Unfortunately we missed out, but it introduced us to the housing officer, Syed, and after applying a few times we were told we could have this house.

“It has helped us so much. We’d been looking at anything and everything in this area but these were by far the most affordable and because it was a housing association we didn’t have to worry about what happens if something goes wrong.

“We’ve seen that already when we’ve had a couple of little issues, such as the fan not working in the bathroom. I sent an email at 11am and we had workmen here to fix it that same evening.”

But just as big a selling point as the affordability was the longer tenancies, with tenants being given the choice of one, three or five year contracts. David and Michelle have signed up for the next five years.

Michelle said: “For us, the best thing about moving here is the stability and security of knowing we can put down roots here. Normally, I’d be worrying every year about whether the landlord is going to put the rent up to levels I can’t afford, or decide to sell up altogether.

“But now we know we are here for at least the next five years and that is a weight off our minds. With the little one it’s even more important to have that security.”

SimpliCity purchases homes on the open market, usually in a run-down condition, and refurbishes them to a high standard. The homes are let on the open market but reserved for working households on incomes of less than £60,000.

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