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Tenants

Out of sight, out of mind: The hidden homelessness scandal

  • Rough sleeping is on the rise. Since 2010, the official number of street homeless people has risen by a catastrophic 134 per cent. To spend time in any town or city centre in the UK now is to come face to face with the people whose precarious living situations form these shocking statistics.

    Yet street homelessness is only the visible tip of the iceberg. Recent figures from the charity Shelter estimate that, as of April last year, while 4,500 people were sleeping rough in Britain, more than 300,000 were in hostels, temporary shelters or unsuitable and overcrowded accommodation. These figures do not include those sofa-surfing who are not registered by local authorities as being in need of housing assistance.

    A report by the London Assembly’s Housing Committee suggests that young people form a disproportionate share of the hidden homeless population – with young LGBTQ+ people at particular risk.

     

     

    The New Horizon Youth Centre, near Euston Station in London, is on the front line. Last year its staff helped 2,450 young people with everything from securing accommodation and work placements, to fitness and music classes, workshops focusing on self-esteem, and sexual health.

    Open daily for people aged 16 to 21, it also provides breakfast and lunch, showers, laundry facilities, a safe space and access to counselling and a nurse.

    “What we are seeing is increasing numbers of young people coming through the doors who are homeless. But they wouldn’t classify themselves that way,” says New Horizon CEO Shelagh O’Connor.

    “Our young people see themselves as quite apart. That guy sleeping in the doorway is ‘homeless’. But they are not. In reality they are, because they don’t have safe accommodation to be in.

    “Sofa-surfing is common to the majority of the young people we see,” continues O’Connor. “It is not just your auntie offering you her sofa for a while. It is a stranger offering you a space to stay – and invariably our young people say that there are strings attached to that offer.

    “So it can be a dangerous situation for young people to be in. As a society, we need to prevent that happening.”

     

    by Adrian lobb

    by: tenancy central uploaded 1 months ago