High rents keeping people stuck in homelessness


Homeless people are finding it difficult to move on from homelessness and hostels because of a shortage of affordable housing, the Caritas Social Action Network has warned (CSAN).

The network said rents have risen in some London boroughs by 20 per cent in the last year and that around 32 per cent of people being supported by homeless agencies who want to move on from hostels and shelters into their own accommodation are unable to do so.

They are being prevented from making the move because of a combination of high rents and the requirement of a large deposit, often two months' rent. 

The current housing market has added to the challenges many homeless people already face in finding employment, with the result being that they have to remain in homeless services.

CSAN surveyed over 450 homeless agencies last year and found that only 10 per cent of clients had successfully entered into paid employment.

CSAN's Chief Executive, Helen O'Brien said: "To learn that over a third of people in homeless shelters are restricted by a lack of affordable housing is shocking. This is not only a drain on the services for those most in need, but highlights even more the necessity for housing that people can afford.

"We're talking here about families and wage-earners being forced to rely on homeless services, simply because cost to rent has spiralled out of control. To be emotionally and spiritually ready to move from a shelter into your own home yet to be held back by staggering rent prices, must be truly heartbreaking."

Chief Executive of Housing Justice, Alison Gelder appealed to churches to respond to the crisis.

"The word 'homeless' is most obviously associated with rough sleeping and it is the most visible way society encounters and understands housing need," she said.

"But homelessness has many faces – and shelters, supported housing and overflow B&Bs accommodate many people who are navigating their way between street and a home of their own.

"Housing Justice is calling on churches and parishioners to do all they can to increase the supply of genuinely affordable housing.

"Without adequate and affordable housing, re-entering society is like trying to climb a ladder without rungs or foot holes."