Homelessness On the Rise

For most people, I imagine the word "homelessness" conjurers up images of the bedraggled man or woman begging on the street, or huddling in a shop door way to hide from the rain.  Images of being unkempt, assumptions of alcoholics and drug addicts.  Certainly from conversations in years gone by that was the impression I got from friends and colleagues.  People were homeless due to their own actions or wrong doings.

The truth is so often far from that.

What about the  person inside?  They must have had a family, a life, a home, a job at some point.  To blame drugs or alcohol or both is, in my opinion, too easy.  They will each have their own story to tell and growing up, I heard a lot of heart breaking stories of loss, illness, all sorts of reasons as to why men and women end up on the streets.

Sleeping rough is just one side of homelessness.

There is, of course, another side to homelessness.

Regular readers will know our recent history of being homeless.  How many of you know that the husband and I have been homeless before?  Separately before we knew each other we were both in homeless hostels for young people.  We met as after several months of work with support workers whilst in separate hostels, we were moved on in to separate shared flats in the same building that were managed by the same charity and still provided a certain level of "remote" support.

Technically, we were homeless then, even with a roof over our heads.  Neither of us had got into those situations on our own accord.

Fast forward eight years and we were once again homeless largely due to my own poor health but this time as a married couple, with a young child.

Some of you will know about my friend Karen from Woman Wife and Mum as well and another fellow blogger Nickie from I am Typecast shared her own story and that of a fellow tweeter at the beginning of this year.

Whilst we are now both happy and more importantly our children are happy and starting to re-settle again into our own homes, sadly our stories and experiences are not unique and are on the rise.  Government figures released today have shown that the number of homeless families is now at its highest for almost ten years.  Between April and June this year 8,790 families with children in England alone were accepted as homeless by their local council.  That is the equivalent of one family being made homeless every 15 minutes!  I don't know about you but I had no idea things had become that bad.

2,090 families have been placed in B&B accommodation after losing their homes. an 8% increase on the same period as last year. Overall homelessness figures have also risen to 13,460, a 5% increase on the same period last year.  At the end of June there were 56,210 households in temporary accommodation, a 9% increase on the previous year.

My family was lucky.  We got temporarily/emergency housed in a hostel, mainly for families where we formed a couple of friendships which I hope will last, primarily for Harry's sake.  Karen wasn't so lucky.  Other people are even more unfortunate.

Shelter recently did an online survey with YouGov which found that 63% of working families who were either paying a mortgage or rent were falling behind or struggling with monthly payments.

As Campbell Robb, Chief Executive of Shelter said:  "These figures are a wake-up call. Ordinary families are falling through the net and risk losing everything. We’re worried about the thousands more just behind them who are living on a knife-edge, where all it takes is a sudden job loss or illness to tip a family into a downward spiral that can put their home at risk.”

I find these figures really quite frightening.  That homelessness, whether it be families or single people, is on the increase in 2013 is something that makes me desperately sad.  Something needs to change but I don't know what the answer is.

Edit: As a result of this post and previous ones sharing my story, Julie has shared her's here, please do take a read.

Disclosure: Whilst figures were given to me by Shelter, I have written this post purely to try to raise awareness and have received no compensation for doing so.

 

Post Comment Love

26 thoughts on “Homelessness On the Rise

  1. Karen

    Well done for bravely highlighting this issue as there is a lot of shame and misunderstanding associated with homelessness. It is sometimes so hard to comprehend the situations people find themselves in with issues that are beyond their control

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  2. It’s so true, homelessness is more than people sleeping in shop doorways. I myself have lived in temporary accommodation and I have family members who are in hostels or sleeping on someone else’s floor as they have no place to call home. There is some support if you have children or health issues but for those that don’t you are told to just get a job and find your own place but it’s not as easy as that in reality. I fear with the new universal credit that the situation will only get worse . I work full time and live in a council house so my rent is affordable but I still struggle every month. I know it is a test on responsibility but I think it is too tempting with so many other things to pay for to give people their rent money. I’m glad everything has worked out for you and you are now settled.
    Tracey recently posted..Happy new (school) year!My Profile

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    1. Post author

      Yes, I can’t help but agree on the Universal Credit front, not one thing I have read about it has a positive outlook. Not just in terms of getting the benefits in one sum but in that everything I have seen (outside of the government’s own views) is that people are going to be worse off. As Council tenants we are lucky and should be okay. Private tenants I think will hugely struggle, the LHA rates have a huge shortfall in most areas. x

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  3. Thank you for writing this post! I knew it was bad, but not THAT bad!

    My husband and I have struggled financially an awful lot because of my health. We are one of those families living “on the knife edge”, we just about make ends meet but if one thing were to go wrong we’d be in a dire situation. It makes you realise just how hard it is for people to hold on to the bare essentials such as a home and how easy it is to fall through the net, and as you say for this to be happening in 2013 is just so sad.
    Amanda recently posted..Baking with a Toddler for the Very First Time!My Profile

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  4. Wow. your article is eye opening. Being homeless is hard enough but being homeless with the responsiblity of a child(ren) must be so tough. I was reading women who go through divorce usually find their standard of living slips post-divorce. They usually have the children and suddenly less money/less support. I’m glad you are highlighting this issue.
    NYLon Living recently posted..The Last of the Summer GardenMy Profile

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    1. Post author

      I am glad it was an eye-opener, that was intention, to try to raise awareness.

      Thankfully I am still married, I am not sure I would have been quite so strong if I wasn’t. I have witnessed friends relationships end and the mother (I only say that as I don’t know any single father’s with sole custody) have their standard of living change dramatically.

      Thank you for stopping by. x

      Reply
    1. Post author

      And this is what makes me so incredibly sad. There ARE support services available but when you are already using all of your energy to just survive, it can be difficult to know where to turn for that support.

      Reply
  5. This post is really enlightening and I imagine it to be even more hard to write given your own experience. Times are really hard for everyone and it is heartbreaking to read some of these facts and figures – of course it’s even worse where children are involved. Well done for writing this and I hope that there will be an answer – what it is I don’t know, but this is a really great post thanks for sharing x

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  7. Such a scary thought, something I do worry about myself. Had I not moved to France to move in with my parents I would have been street homeless due to inability to work but having been deemed “fit to work” by ATOS.
    I constantly worry what will happen when my parents pass away if I have not fully recovered, and my illness is a lifetime illness so it’s anyone’s guess if I will be able to work enough to pay rent, etc.
    The government really needs to act on these figures, but, as you say, I don’t really know what the answer is.
    Mrs Teepot recently posted..Silent SundayMy Profile

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    1. Post author

      I am dreading my ATOS assessment having seen people who they deem as fit being so obviously not fit to work. At least not enough for any employer to employ them.

      Reply
  8. What a great post – a real eye-opener. While I had followed your story, I had no idea that homelessness was so rife among families. I’m so glad that you are now getting settled into a proper place, but I hope there is a proper solution for all of those other families out there too.
    Thank you for raising awareness.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted..Silent Sunday 8.9.13My Profile

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    1. Post author

      Sarah, that is my hope too. It would be all too easy for me to now just “forget” about our experience but I want to try to use it for good, somehow. x

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  9. I was homeless when I was pregnant with my first daughter. It was no fault of mine. My parents were having some issues. I had been cruelly dumped by the father of my baby (now my husband). There was no drugs, no alcohol involved. I had no money, as I had worked for my parents, before we fell out. I had not a penny to my name. The council wouldn’t help me as they said I had no ties with the town I’d lived in for the previous 2 years. There were no prospects for me where my family lived and it was important that I was away from them. Nobody helped me at all. Not even Shelter. I lived with my friend for a while. Slept on her sofa, while her man beat her up. I couldn’t stay. I moved from sofa to sofa of friends, until I landed a job by lying about my pregnancy and using a false address. A really kind friend then rented me a room at half price. Then when his lodger moved in, he let me sleep on his sofa free of charge. I went to church for dinner, because I couldn’t afford to eat. As I hadn’t had the baby, I didn’t qualify for anything in the form of benefits. I didn’t hear from my family for 2 months. I was homeless for three. Finally the church helped me. They paid the deposit on a flat and gave me a reference. I got another reference from a former employer and one from a friend. I lied about my pregnancy and my temping job, in order to get the flat just a few weeks before my daughter was born. I had no other choice. The church saved me. And so did my friends. Once I had a house – I was entitled to benefits – but not before! It’s ridiculous that there is nobody to help pregnant women. Luckily Bunny’s father saw sense and we got back together just before she was born. We are now married. We paid back the church. We mended the bonds with the family. We are skint, but we got our happy ending. xxx
    Emma Day recently posted..Gromit Unleashed: All 80 GromitsMy Profile

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    1. Post author

      Gosh Emma, I hadn’t realised. I mean, I knew you were homeless when pregnant with Bunny but I didn’t realise all of the rest. I m so glad you got your happy ending. xx

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  10. An absolutely brilliant post lovely lady. I am so sorry it has taken me so long to comment. I am so glad you are getting settled. Thinking of all those people this evening who aren’t so lucky as me. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo and hope to see you link up tomorrow x

    Reply

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