Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The silent problem of homelessness

Mainstream media often overlooks the fact taht homelessness is on the sharp rise in Britain today and with housing benifit set to be slashed back in 2013 there is no doubt in my mind there will be more people living on the streets in the years to come. With Labour and tories backing laws to criminalise squatting making it illegal to squat and limit peoples choices where they can go to kip at night is a grave concern of mine. The media who are petti bourgeois in the main live a very comfortable lifestyel and report on homelessness only around christmas time to ramp up sympathy for the poor but if they really cared that'd look to really do something about it. But they do not.
lessness is the most extreme form of housing need. But it isn’t just about people sleeping on the streets. There are many more people in England who do not have a home despite not actually sleeping rough. Some have to put up with living in temporary accommodation where they have an uncertain future. Unable to afford alternative options, others have to endure overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. Having a home is about more than just having a roof over your head.

Homelessness is not just a housing problem. Not having a decent home adversely affects all areas of your life - from your health, to your achievement at school if you are a child, and your ability to get work if you are an adult. Conversely, if you are struggling with your health or your employment, this may in turn affect your housing needs and the security of your home.

People end up homeless for a wide variety of reasons:

When relationships break down, often one person is forced to move out without anywhere to go.
Private tenancies frequently last only for six months or a year, and when they come to an end people may face homelessness due to a lack of other affordable options.
When faced with an abusive home life, many children decide to run away.
After a reduction in or loss of income due to health reasons or unemployment, or a sharp rise in interest rates, a person may find themselves unable to keep up mortgage repayments. Some people on low incomes who rely on housing benefit to pay their rent can face eviction because of errors and delays in the benefit being paid.

lessness is still viewed by many as the result of personal failings. But homelessness is caused by a complex interplay between a person's personal circumstances, and adverse 'structural' factors, outside that person's direct control. These problems can build up over years leading to the final crisis when a person may become homeless.

Total numbers of homeless people in England are very difficult to calculate because of the transient nature of the homeless population and because the various forms of homelessness are counted in different, but sometimes overlapping ways. However, there are various figures available. Some statistics are snapshot figures that count numbers of people at a particular moment in time. Others are ‘flow’ figures which count people becoming homeless over a period of time.

People sleeping rough are often difficult to count for a number of reasons, for example because people bed down at different times, move about, are hidden away in derelict buildings or travel on night buses. The numbers of people who sleep on friends’ floors, and stay in squats and other insecure accommodation are often not known.

In summary, the main sources of published statistics on homelessness are:

•Street counts of people sleeping rough
•Data from local authorities on the number of people who apply to them as homeless
•Local authority data on cases of prevention of homelessness
•Statistics from homelessness services about the numbers of clients they serve.

which can often be misleading or inaccurate too. This is a growing issue and a problem for many and as the size of the global economic crisis looks set to deepen in the next few years people will be forced into increasing difficult decisions about their lives and thier lifestyles. I myself am lucky enough to have never experienced being homeless and dont pretend to know how it is like but i still think that the issue shouldnt be ushered under the carpet just as some of are lucky enough to not be homeless . It is not a prospect many wish for and some may be reluctant to be helped off the streets this can be a challenge but support must be there if they want it at all times. The other big problem is a lack of affordable housing in this country which i have addressed on this blog before which does play a big part in more and more people being forced on to the streets.

1 comment:

  1. Too right, comrade! I used to work on a project which offered advocacy, advice and lots of practical support to homeless and insecurely housed families. Each and every one had a complex 'story' - a guy whose business had failed, women fleeing domestic abuse, refugees, ex-soldiers with PTSD, people with drug problems following physical or sexual abuse, in other words people who had just slipped through the 'net' which is supposed to protect us all. This was 20 years ago, in Brighton & Hove... I can't imagine it got any better. In fact, the only change is likely to be, the kind of support agencies which helped families like that have probably lost their funding.