A father had to take his battle for affordable housing to the Royal Court after clashing Ministerial views left him without secure accommodation in which to care for his children.
The man – who cannot be named to protect the identity of his children – won his battle to overturn a condition imposed on his residential status last month.
According to a recently published judgment, the then Children and Housing Minister, Senator Sam Mézec, had agreed the man should be allowed to access the Affordable Housing Gateway but the Deputy Chief Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, imposed conditions contrary to this when granting Entitled status in March 2020.
One of the conditions said the man wouldn’t be allowed to apply for affordable housing until he earned the Entitled status in his own right.
The father had made the initial application in August 2019 so that he could secure accommodation allowing him to look after his children, who were all born in the island.
Pictured: The man had a Registered status and applied for Entitled Status on hardship grounds.
During Care Proceedings in relation to one of his children in 2018, a Court had found he needed accommodation he could not “reasonably provide himself” and that stable accommodation was part of the “necessary jigsaw” that would prevent “irrevocable harm” to one of the children.
In August 2019, the father applied for Entitled Status on hardship grounds, referring to a parenting assessment from Children’s Services that warned he and his children would be forced to move to the UK and be homeless or that the family would be separated if the application was not granted.
In previous proceedings, the Court had heard that the father’s commitment to be a full-time carer for his child made it difficult to find full-time employment. In addition, even with support from the Children’s Services, he had been forced to move from “one self-contained unit to another”, which had affected the child.
Social workers at that time had highlighted that it would cost less to fund the father’s accommodation than to take the child into care, which would happen if the dad couldn’t obtain his qualifications.
The child’s guardian had noted it was “an anomaly” that a child might end up having to be looked after because of difficulties with their parent’s accommodation. She had also questioned whether a mother would have been put under the same pressured to return to work.
The application was first rejected in December on the basis that there were “insufficient exceptional circumstances” and that the father could explore other avenues “to maintain life in Jersey and be a parent to and support his children."
The father applied for the decision to be reconsidered and he was eventually granted Entitled status based on five conditions, one of which was that he couldn’t apply to join the Affordable Housing Gateway waiting list.
This was in direct contradiction to the wishes of the then-Minister for Children and Housing who, via his legal representative, had stated the man would be able to apply for affordable housing, a discrepancy which the court noted.
The father appealed the conditions imposed, arguing that the Chief Minister had failed to consider he needed accommodation which he could not provide himself and that he was unable to work and provide the “appropriate level of care that his children require."
He also said that the condition, which is applied in all similar cases, effectively excluded him from accessing social rental accommodation, with no reasonable justification.
Pictured: The Royal Court struck down the condition imposed by the Deputy Chief Minister.
In their judgment, the Bailiff, Timothy Le Cocq, and Jurats Anthony Olsen and Kim Averty, noted the conditions had not been considered by the Housing and Work Advisory Group - a panel of politicians and civil servants responsible for making decisions on residency applications - but were imposed by the Deputy Chief Minister.
They concluded that the application for the Entitled status was linked completely to the father’s need “to provide secure and satisfactory accommodation for his children” and that any condition should “foster” that purpose rather than negate it.
They added that imposing a condition that would prevent him from access to accommodation was “inherently unreasonable and at odds with the underlying purpose for which the Entitled status was granted” and struck it down.
“The facts in this case, if not unique, are sufficiently exceptional to show that the Appellant has an extraordinary need for particular types of accommodation if those are available,” the Court wrote.
“To limit his ability to secure that accommodation was wholly inconsistent with the granting of Entitled status in this case.”
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