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How easy is it to tend up homeless?

(90 Posts)
sundestroyer Mon 20-Jul-20 12:01:12

I have a friend who has lived in the US and UK. He says America has a better social support network than the UK. I'm not sure about that

The only homeless person I know is a guy in my 20s who I went to school with. He was an autistic lad who got kicked out at 19 and afaik, is still in one of the homeless shelters.

But I've heard that most people are a two or three paychecks away from homelessness.

OP’s posts: |
lukasiak Mon 20-Jul-20 12:05:43

I think it's very hard to end up street sleeping homeless in the UK, to the point that I would say that it's almost a 'choice' (not really, because there are MH and other contributing factors involved, but still). I would say single men and older teens are most at risk.

For me personally, it would be next to impossible to end up on the streets because I have a fantastic support system, so somebody would always put me up if I was really in a dire situation.

Sn0tnose Mon 20-Jul-20 12:33:30

I think it's very hard to end up street sleeping homeless in the UK, to the point that I would say that it's almost a 'choice'

I think you’re very naive if you genuinely believe that that is the case. It’s incredibly easy to end up street homeless.

molifly14 Mon 20-Jul-20 12:35:59

It's incredible easy to end up homeless. You rent, have no savings as a buffer, you're a single person with no children and you get an eviction notice as your landlord is selling. The council wouldn't want to know, you have no money to pay advance rent and deposits to move and not network around you. What do you do? It's terrifying.

Haworthia Mon 20-Jul-20 12:43:16

I don’t think it’s “easy” to become street homeless. I think it’s usually brought about by a perfect storm of mental health and addiction issues which take someone down a chaotic path of poverty and crime.

vampirethriller Mon 20-Jul-20 12:43:16

I ended up homeless because I was in a mental unit for six weeks, couldn't pay rent and had no family or friends who could help at the time. Landlord turned out have been illegally letting the house, the council couldn't help because I had left the property voluntarily.
It took me nearly four years to get back to a normal life.

cookiemonster5 Mon 20-Jul-20 12:48:23

I was homeless. It was very very easy. I escaped an abusive marriage with 2 kids. He plunged us into debt and then emptied the bank account. I had no where to go and no money.

Everyone in the shelter had the similar stories. None of them were there through choice. They were all decent, hard working (many of them still employed while in the shelter), law abiding folk who had been given notice from landlords but the private rentals were way too expensive, relationships broke down etc.

No one I met just decided not to pay rent and get kicked out or just felt like staying in a shelter. It can happen to each and every one of us in the blink of an eye. Your savings could be gone tomorrow and so could your home.

Sn0tnose Mon 20-Jul-20 13:06:14

I don’t think it’s “easy” to become street homeless. I think it’s usually brought about by a perfect storm of mental health and addiction issues which take someone down a chaotic path of poverty and crime.

A relative’s friend currently has a distant 19 year old relative she’s met twice in her life staying in her spare room because his mum has re married, 19 year old doesn’t get on with new husband and mum isn’t willing to step in. None of his friends have the means to support him. He’s a nice kid, no indication of any mental health issues or substance abuse. They’re in an area of high unemployment and he’s doing his best to find work to support himself but not having much luck.

As a late teenager, my oldest friend came to live with us for a year for a similar reason. She had no other options.

Someone I know is dating a man whose partner upped and left him. He was on minimum wage and didn’t meet the agent’s requirements to stay in the property. He didn’t have any savings and she’d left him with quite a bit of debt so he couldn’t afford a deposit (which had been returned to the former partner) or moving costs. The only friend he had who was willing/able to let him stay on the sofa was hundreds of miles away from his work, so he lost his job. The friend asked him to leave before he’d found new employment. He ended up on the streets for around six months before a charity was able to help him.

I’ve met someone else whose business went under. They lost their house, his marriage ended. He had nowhere to go and ended up sleeping in a tent in the park for months before the council found him a room

These are not unusual stories.

misselphaba Mon 20-Jul-20 13:26:18

A friend who works in street homelessness says that the old saying about most people only being x number of paychecks from homelessness isn't true. The majority of people have a buffer of family/friend support and that is the difference between those on the streets and those who manage to avoid it

I am only ever one paycheck from being completely broke but I have built up enough goodwill with my landlord over the years that they would accept a payment plan if I got into rent arrears. If things deteriorated from that, I have friends and family who would lend me money or offer us a bed.

throughthecracks Mon 20-Jul-20 14:31:08

Horrifyingly easy. All it can take is health problems that mean you can't work or need a housing benefit top up followed by needing to move and 99% of landlords will treat you like a piece of dirt and refuse you point blank. Some LL's will even evict you if you start to claim HB/UC but want to stay and can pay the rent. Nothing good in your past will matter or make a difference, only that you are now benefits scum. Even if you offer to pay upfront and even if you have a guarantor.

This happens even though a blanket ban on benefit tenants has always been discriminatory, and the recent court case ruled it so officially, but the thread about that decision is evidence of the huge prejudice against benefit tenants regardless of their (our) individual circumstances.

Councils can, and do, put up all manner of obstacles against registering as in housing need, even for those who are street homeless, eg a residential link or familial or work link to the area and it is perfectly possible to fall through the cracks as each council tries to accept responsibility for as few claimants as possible because they are so short of housing.

As a couple without children for example, the majority of councils in the UK will restrict you to a 1 bed property only so if there are no 1 beds available then you cannot bid on any property, in addition people who are street homeless will almost always take priority over singles/couples who are sofa surfers, and often elderly downsizers moving to a one bed will take priority of a homeless-sofa surfing couple because the larger property needs to be freed up. It is possible to be awarded the highest level of housing need/points including medical need and still get no higher than 5th or 6th on the list in over 2 years and so are never offered any property that you bid on.

Many council/housing association homes also have restrictions on them that are aimed at keeping a mixture of types of tenants in the area eg working and non-working, and so have additional eligibility requirements. That idea has its advantages, but try being the homeless person who can't work due to health problems and being denied a home as it is for working people only, someone who arguable is in less need than you since they are fit and well enough to work.

Also, if you are granted homeless status, often the only emergency accommodation are hostels for single people which can be miles form your previous address/doctor etc, and even if you have health needs and one of you cares for the other, this will not taken into account at all and so the only option is to be separated if you cannot sofa surf or live in a car, a tent etc.

Many people with MH problems do not want to live with other strangers who may behavioural or MH problems, or alcohol problems as there is so little support there can be a risk of getting caught up in a downward spiral or simply being frightened of living in close proximity with strangers due to their autism, MH issues or past abuse etc So hostel living can be an impossible or a frightening choice and that leaves the street, a car etc.

It is very bad for people with children too obviously but having children in need means that councils can find it more difficult to do absolutely nothing for you. It can be easier to be allocated a hotel room or bedsit than for people without children. And that's a good thing of course, but terrible if you are the one without children.

The point being that more people need to be aware that it isn't simply lack of money that causes homelessness, so having 3 or 6 months savings won't always save you.

It is a structural/bureaucratic/prejudice issue - the money can be claimed so long as you have an address to do it from, if you have friends/ family who will let you do this and its not without its own complications and consequences, and/or can find a property that you can afford from housing benefit/UC that will only pay up to the lowest 30th percentile of the rents in that area ie the cheapest 3 out of ten rents (and this has only just gone up from the 10th percentile, which made/makes some areas completely unaffordable depending on the variation across your local authority area, the cheapest 1 out of ten rents so people can be forced to move across the county with implications for job opportunities, schooling, doctor, family support etc); it is also the housing crisis.

We have a dire lack of council/social housing due to sell offs and population increases and far, far too many LLs holding unconscionable prejudice so people are prevented from having a home even if it could be paid for through benefits.

Zaphodsotherhead Mon 20-Jul-20 14:31:32

Does it depend what you mean by 'homeless'? Do you mean sleeping on the streets homeless, or couch surfing, or living in a hostel or someone else's spare room? They are all homelessness but differing degrees. If someone in your family is putting you up, technically you aren't homeless, because you have a roof over your head, but you don't have your own home.

OhCaptain Mon 20-Jul-20 14:34:15

@vampirethriller well done on getting out of that. Do you mind if I ask how? I often hear that once it happens it’s nearly impossible not to fall through the cracks.

throughthecracks Mon 20-Jul-20 14:34:20

sorry for typos

AlphaJura Mon 20-Jul-20 14:39:23

I don't think it's that difficult. If you lose your job and can't pay the rent or mortgage. Lose your home. Then social housing is not that easy to come by, there's massive waiting lists. You can apply for benefits but for private rent the housing benefit probably won't cover it and many private landlords don't take DSS anyway. I live in constant fear of being made homeless. If my landlord evicted me, I wouldn't be able to afford the going rate for private rents and would probably end up homeless. Ok some people have a support network, but many don't, or their family are in the same position so don't have the finances or room to help out.

HooNoes Mon 20-Jul-20 15:04:16

Very easy. I was street homeless for 2 months along with my ex (without whom, I may very well have gotten myself into dangerous situations).
It was a combination of both of us losing jobs, not being able to afford rent, violence in the relationship meaning landlord kicked us out, all ID being stolen and not having any credit card/access to credit and being in a foreign country with no support. No address for anyone to send me cash/birth cert, so couldn't even apply for benefits as A. no address and B. no ID. I couldn't see any way out of it, until my brother and sister flew over, brought me to the embassy, got me a temporary travel document, paid for flights home and then I had to stay there until I got all my ID sorted out again and built up enough cash to return.
So yes, it can happen. Too bloody easily.

Waxonwaxoff0 Mon 20-Jul-20 15:07:52

Of course it's easy. I volunteer at a homeless hostel for men. The majority of them end up there due to their relationship breaking down, and their ex partner stays in the family home with the children. These men don't always have family or friends willing to let them stay, and can't afford a deposit to rent somewhere else.

HooNoes Mon 20-Jul-20 15:08:09

The other thing was that no charity could help us as we hadn't been in the borough for the qualifying period (6 months minimum). We had moved around London in various house shares for the year prior to becoming homeless. And without ID nobody could do anything anyway. The only way to have gotten out of it was my siblings. I would have had no means to get to the embassy, nor pay for a flight home, even if I had known that such an option existed.

sundestroyer Mon 20-Jul-20 15:12:07


Of course it's easy. I volunteer at a homeless hostel for men. The majority of them end up there due to their relationship breaking down, and their ex partner stays in the family home with the children. These men don't always have family or friends willing to let them stay, and can't afford a deposit to rent somewhere else.

I don't get it. Why do the men have to leave and not the women?

OP’s posts: |
HooNoes Mon 20-Jul-20 15:13:23

In the first few weeks of being homeless, before I had to trade in my phone for cash, I remember sitting on a park bench in Edmonton, sipping cider, taking a call from a recruitment agent about an interview she wanted me to go to which would have paid 23/hr and included a taxi from Victoria station to workplace. I was sat there, being all professional, setting up the interview for 2 days time, hoping that maybe by some miracle I'd manage to persuade my father to send money via Western Union or something (though I suspect I'd have had to have had ID to collect that), so that I could have booked into a hotel, had a shower and a decent nights sleep or two, gotten rid of the insect bites on my face and bought a suit to wear and obviously the cash to get me to interview and back and then enough money for a deposit and first month's rent before I'd have got paid - however my father refused and said it would be a waste.

HooNoes Mon 20-Jul-20 15:15:52

It's also such a black hole to fall into that it's so bloody hard to get out of without significant financial input from relatives or somewhere as happened in my case. It's worth mentioning that I have mental health issues and was alcohol dependent at the time.

Waxonwaxoff0 Mon 20-Jul-20 15:17:49

sundestroyer usually the women are the primary caregivers so they stay with the children.

HooNoes Mon 20-Jul-20 15:19:12

Why do the men have to leave and not the women?

Usually because the woman is the primary carer for the children.

DishRanAwayWithTheSpoon Mon 20-Jul-20 15:23:05

Surely it very much depends on circumstances, for me personally quite hard because I have a lot of family who I could go to.

However someone with no family, no close friends - quite a lot easier. It doesnt take much

DishRanAwayWithTheSpoon Mon 20-Jul-20 15:26:52

If one person is ending up homeless after a relationship breakdown does it really matter if its a man or a woman? The problem isnt that fact its the man whos been asked to leave

I call BS slightly on that, youd have to be kicked out completely for that to happen rather than just a relationship breakdown. It sounds more a case of man getting kicked out rather than a law deciding the man has to leave

HooNoes Mon 20-Jul-20 15:31:39

You'll find that there are very few people willing to take in one or two 'bums' either while they get back on their feet.

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