Tuesday October 10th is internationally recognised as ‘World Homelessness Day’ .
To mark this day, and the importance of this issue, we are setting out a series of daily messages this week through social media and via our partners to highlight key statistics around homelessness, top tips for renters, and guidance for those in mortgage arrears; finishing with putting a spotlight on a specific issue blighting new tenants across the country – the inconsistent provision of essential furnishings, such as flooring and window coverings.
Threatened homelessness is on the increase, driven by rising rents, inadequate benefit levels, and the knock on impact of cost-of-living pressures on household budgets. However, public, and political, discourse around homelessness often focuses only on the relatively few street homeless (ie ‘rough sleepers’) to the exclusion of thousands and thousands of those living in temporary accommodation, emergency accommodation (such as refuges), or ‘sofa surfing’.
If you want to understand the real numbers of those without a secure roof over their heads, how this is broken down into families and singles, and what the barriers are to accessing affordable suitable and secure accommodation take a look at, respectively, CRISIS’s ‘Homelessness Monitor’ and the findings of St Martin-in-the-fields’ ‘Annual Survey of Front Line Housing Sector Workers’.
Despite recent, and legitimate, concerns over the impact of rising mortgage rates on homeowners, tenants in social or private rented accommodation continue to be much more insecure in their housing.
As a response to potential cost-of-living pressures this winter the government has updated and re-published its ‘How to Rent Guide’. This is a must read for new tenants or for those supporting tenants.
Recent mortgage interest rate rises have, nevertheless, left homeowners with either substantially higher monthly payments or faced with difficult remortgaging decisions. This is causing tremendous stress and anxiety as well as heightened financial difficulties.
For those with mortgage arrears, or those worried about generating mortgage arrears, help is out there. Citizens Advice provides impartial and independent advice and guidance for struggling households on this and related housing issues. ‘Moneyhelper’ also provides valuable money management help around mortgage payments.
The path away from street homelessness usually starts with placement in temporary social or council housing, or low cost private rented accommodation. In an increasing number of cases tenants are being placed in unfurnished properties or, even if basic fixtures and fittings are present, in accommodation with no flooring or heat insulating window coverings (such as curtains or blinds).
We, and many others, believe this ‘furniture poverty’ is unacceptable. If you are unaware of this issue, and the impact it has on tenants, read the recent report from Altair entitled ‘Lesson 2: the tenants’ perspective’. If you want to know more about, or actively support, the wider campaign go to the website of the charity End Furniture Poverty and see how you can help.
Finally, if you work in the front line of the housing and homelessness sector, and want to have your voice heard (as well as gain access to training funds and other benefits), visit St Martin-in-the-fields website and consider joining their Front Line Network.