Andium tenants are being drawn "further and further into debt" by loan payments to furnish their homes, a backbencher has said – with local charities helping out families living on concrete and carpet gripper.
Social Security Minister Elaine Millar revealed at this week’s States Assembly that an estimated total of 114 Andium tenants are currently repaying loans for the provision of carpets.
Deputy Rob Ward, who asked the Minister for the figures, said he hoped to "address" the situation.
"It strikes me as remarkable that we are providing public housing without even the basics and then charging people loans for them, meanwhile Andium is making a financial return of £30 million to the Government," he added.
Pictured: Deputy Rob Ward said the carpet loans are affecting those "who are already least able to pay back a loan in our community."
Andium provides homes on an unfurnished basis, which includes white goods and carpets, to save tenants from paying a security deposit for the replacement or renewal of damaged goods.
Deputy Ward explained: "Sometimes the carpets are even ripped out before a new tenant moves in, and they have to take out a loan to provide their own flooring. These loans are drawing people further and further into debt when they are already finding it extremely hard to live with everyday costs already."
However, Deputy Millar defended the unfurnished properties, claiming that "it matters to people that they have choices about their environment".
"The last thing someone with a green sofa might want is a red carpet," she added.
Pictured: Deputy Millar said that "it matters to people that they have choices about their environment".
Catriona Fern, Chief Executive of Love Thy Neighbour – a local charity which supports the long-term homeless, the poor and those in need – said she has been "irate" about the situation for a long time.
She explained: "We helped out a woman starting from scratch after a relationship. Social security gave her £46 a month, £21 of which she had to spend on carpet payments. That left her £25 for everything else. In the end, the church had to cover her carpet payments.
"We regularly get people saying they are living on concrete and carpet gripper and they are always asking us for rugs. We do our best to provide them, but it's just ongoing."
The CEO said her charity recently also paid for the carpets in the home of a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness:
Mrs Fern added: "I was not going to have a woman in end-of-life care with no flooring. But she died within a matter of weeks of moving in, and they ripped the carpet out immediately for the next tenant.
"Why are Andium doing this? It's ridiculous and it's not environmentally friendly, because most of the carpets are in decent condition. It's insane, and it's crippling for a lot of people."
Pictured: Andium Homes' chief executive Ian Gallichan looks around the company's Cyril Le Marquand court development. (James Jeune)
Deputy Montfort Tadier expressed concerns in the Assembly that "Andium is the only housing provider that doesn't provide their customers or tenants with flooring".
He said: "This sends out a signal to other landlords that it's acceptable for them not to provide carpets, as the Social Security Department will provide loans so that tenants can pay for it themselves."
However, Zoe Hibbs, Head of Communications and Media for Andium, said that "the comparisons with other landlords and even other social housing providers is unfortunate and fails to recognise the unique landlord offering provided by Andium".
She explained: "We do provide homes on a completely unfurnished basis, so in most instances carpets will not be included. This allows us to offer our homes without the need to require a security deposit from tenants, something which most landlords will charge to cover the cost of items such as carpets.
"As our tenants are not required to pay a deposit this can assist them significantly with affordability when moving into one of our homes and in most cases, they will be getting a deposit back from their former landlord which will assist them in meeting these costs."
Pictured: An Andium spokesperson said that the housing provider always provides flooring in kitchens and bathrooms.
She added: "Unlike most private tenancies, our homes are offered on a much longer-term basis, meaning that investment in carpets is more reasonable for tenants and provides each one of them with choice on quality, colour, and cost, enabling them to feel the home is theirs.
"We do always provide flooring to kitchens and bathrooms, usually in the form of vinyl flooring."
Andium is Jersey's largest landlord, and manages more than 4,500 tenancies, providing homes and landlord services for more than 10,000 islanders.
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