I ventured to South Clapham to view some available guardian properties in the areas. The only information I came equipped with was the postcode, name of the building, and name of the staff member who was going to show me around. Without any expectations I arrives as the viewing was in full swing.
In a crowd of around 10-13 people we were lead around 3 different council housing blocks. The viewing group was comprised of young couples, and friends, single working professionals in their 30's and older, and a elderly grandmother. The guide informed us that there were around 200 Guardians living on the estate, and that the rest of the flats were still occupied by council tenants. The Guardian company had secured a long term contract with the local council as part of a 7 year plan to redevelop the area, transforming the decaying council estate into a new "affordable housing". I enquired about what "affordable housing" meant for the people who were currently living in the buildings, however I quickly got the impression that I had overstepped a boundary as I was advised to speak with the council if i wanted to know about their plans.
There had been Guardians living on the state for 4 years, so there seemed to be a good chance that the accommodation would be available for at least a couple years, however the guide rightly reiterated countless times that '[they] cannot guarantee anything past the 30 day notice period'.
As we snaked our way through the buildings, stopping every now we would make our way through a doorway littered with post to previous tenants. I noticed a great discrepancy between the state of each of the flats, some being recently refurbished, and others overcome with mould. As members of the heard began to peel away, comments were made when we entered newly refurbished flats, stating that those who left were missing out on a great deal. Prices tended to be around £550 for s studio, £650 for a 1 bedroom, £750 for a 2 bedroom flat, and £800 for a 3 bedroom flat. Undeniably great prices, but the remote location, poor disabled accessibility, and amount of refurbishment needed deterred the majority of attendants.
Overall, the viewing was very basic, involved no sales pitch, and appeared to be inconveniencing the guides workflow that particular day. The majority of conversation was focused on refurbishments, and maintenance requests, and towards the end the issue of privacy and security became more prominent for those who had never been in a Guardianship before. The experience as a whole was disheartening to most, and quite unappealing. The overall consensus amongst the viewers that I spoke to was that the amount of time and money needed to invest in the properties to make them habitable, let a alone a home, was just far too high.