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Helping for the homeless. - Page 14 - Carers UK Forum

Helping for the homeless.

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Areas with most homeless deaths disproportionately hit by cuts.

Labour analysis finds nine of 10 councils with highest fatalities had cuts more than three times national average.

Local government funding cuts are disproportionately hitting areas that have the highest numbers of deaths among homeless people, according to a Labour party analysis.

Nine of the 10 councils with the highest numbers of homeless deaths in England and Wales between 2013 and 2017 have had cuts of more than three times the national average of £254 for every household.

They are Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Blackburn, Liverpool and the four London boroughs of Camden, Westminster, Lambeth and Tower Hamlets.

It follows rising disquiet about the growing number of deaths of rough sleepers across the UK, including the death of a man near parliament in February.

Birmingham, the seventh most deprived council in England and Wales, has seen the highest number of homeless deaths with 90 people estimated to have died between 2013 and 2017. The city’s council has experienced a cut in spending power per household of more than £939 for every home since 2010, according to Labour.

Camden in north London has the second worst figures, with 89 deaths among rough sleepers and those living in hostels during the same period. During the last decade, every household in the borough has experienced cuts of £980.

Official rough sleeping counts in Manchester have risen from seven people in 2010 to 123 in 2018 and, in common with many other cities, it has become highly visible, with numerous people bedding down in city centre doorways. During the four years examined by Labour, 65 homeless people were recorded to have died in the city during a period in which the city council experienced cuts of £926 for each household.

Blackburn is the only town included in Labour’s list and has the 10th highest number of deaths in a four-year period. The Lancashire town has had an estimated 41 deaths among homeless people up to 2017, while spending power for every household has been cut by £879, according to Labour.

James Brokenshire, the housing secretary, last year announced a one-off £30m funding pot for immediate support for councils to tackle rough sleeping. Birmingham received £405,000 from the government for immediate homelessness support – this compared with a cut in spending power of over £358m, Labour claims.

John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, said: “These figures show that the areas with the highest homelessness deaths are facing the deepest cuts. This makes the prospect of reducing deaths ever more bleak. The government’s £30m to reduce the rough sleeping number has been pitiful so Britain’s homelessness crisis is set to continue.

“The next prime minister must put an end to this national shame of people dying on our streets and back Labour’s plans to end rough sleeping and build thousands more affordable homes.”

The homeless death figures, which are estimates, were calculated by checking death registrations in England and Wales for indications that a person was homeless at or near their time of death. ONS researchers searched for terms such as “no fixed abode” in records, also checking whether the address included in the death registration belonged to a night shelter or a hostel.

The figures are in contrast with the change in spending power per household in each council between 2010-11 and 2019-20, which come from official government statistics.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Every death on our streets is a tragedy … That’s why we are investing £1.2bn to tackle homelessness and have bold plans backed by £100m to end rough sleeping in its entirety. Councils have used this funding to create an estimated 2,600 more bed spaces and 750 additional specialist support staff this year.

“We are committed to ensuring independent reviews into the deaths of rough sleepers are conducted where appropriate – and where this does not happen we will hold local authorities to account.
Rough sleepers denied access to healthcare, pushing them into " Repeat cycles of homelessness ", study says.

One homeless man tells researchers he committed crimes just to go to prison so he could access healthcare.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/h ... 05811.html
Homeless people are being denied access to basic healthcare, according to research which suggests “perceived stigma and discrimination” in health settings are pushing people with no fixed abode into “repeat cycles of homelessness” and causing “unnecessary deaths”.

A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham found homeless people were being denied registration at GP surgeries and discharged from hospital onto the streets with no referral to primary care providers.

Mental health and substance misuse services were also deemed to be excluding those with the greatest need, with entry thresholds to these services said to "actively obstruct" patients who were self-harming, including those with recent suicide attempts.
Homeless man forced on 400-mile round trip to seek support

Krzysztof Pietrzykowski travelled from London to Hereford and back again

A homeless man’s experience has provoked questions about systems of provision after he was forced to travel almost 400 miles from London to Hereford and back again to access services.

Krzysztof Pietrzykowski, 39, said he initially left Hereford when he lost his job and found himself homeless. He went to London because he thought he might get better support there. However, when he arrived, he was advised by the Connection at St Martin’s, a homelessness charity, to go back to Hereford, where he had lived for 14 years.

After he headed back there, Pietrzykowski claims, Herefordshire council told him it could not help because he was registered for assistance with a London charity.

“I find the system so confusing. It’s the same country. I have worked and paid taxes for 14 years. I want to get back on my feet. I do not have a criminal past,” Pietrzykowski told the Guardian.

“All I want at the moment is to get a new passport. My old one has expired. I want a passport so I can get a job in London and then go back to Poland at the end of the year.”

The Connection at St Martin’s said it could not comment on the specifics of the case, but when new clients arrived it assessed them. “For many, the best and quickest way to access housing, health and social care services is to do so in a UK local authority where a person has a ‘local connection’ ie they have links to that area,” a spokesperson said.

“We work with clients to establish their rights and options and to find the best solution for them … We are sorry to hear that someone does not feel we have achieved that. We are very happy to speak directly with the person concerned about the situation to see if there are other options.”

Pietrzykowski said he had come to the UK in 2006 to work with his brother. He held various jobs, mainly in construction and then at a garden centre, before he found a job landscaping for a small business. He had an accident at work, which meant he was unable to work and eventually lost his property.

“I spoke to the council and they said I should try to find a new job but my passport expired so I couldn’t. I was unable to pay rent and so I was kicked out of my home. I eventually bought a Megabus ticket to London, which was quite cheap,” he said.

Pietrzykowski said he had been persuaded to come to the capital after seeing the videos of a YouTuber, Rado, a Polish man who documents his life on the street. He thought it would be easier to be homeless in the capital because of support services.

He said he had told the Connection charity he did not want to return to Hereford. “I said: ‘I don’t want to go there. My life was destroyed there. If I have no bed, then fine. I just want my passport.”

Pietrzykowski said he had struggled to get help at another charity after registering with the Connection, because there are rules about only being helped by one service. He eventually decided to return to Hereford where the council told him it could not help him because he had registered with a London charity. Then he made the Megabus journey back to the capital again. He is now trying to get a passport so he can find a job.

Rules state that a homeless person can apply to any council for help but, if the individual does not have a local connection to the area, they can be referred elsewhere. A local connection means having lived or worked in an area, or having a relative there.

“Krzysztof’s case demonstrates all the absurdity and inhumanity of the current system of homelessness provision, which forces dedicated homelessness workers to close their doors to people they know need help,” said a spokesman from the Labour Homelessness Campaign.

He added: “This is a direct result of political choices – the government cut £5bn from single homelessness services and then offloaded the cost of that on to desperately overstretched local councils, forcing them to vie with each other to drive rough sleepers on to somebody else’s turf. Rather than playing local authorities off against each other, we need a unified national approach.”

Herefordshire council said: “We do not share information specific to individual cases. We suggest that anybody who is experiencing housing issues contact the council’s housing solutions team drop-in service.”
Shipping containers used to house homeless children.

More than 210,000 children are estimated to be homeless, with some being temporarily housed in converted shipping containers, a report says.


More than 210,000 children are estimated to be homeless, with some being temporarily housed in converted shipping containers, a report says.

The Children's Commissioner for England says that as well as the 124,000 children officially homeless, a further 90,000 are estimated to be "sofa-surfing".

Her report tells of families housed in repurposed shipping containers and office blocks, and whole families living in tiny spaces.

Councils blamed a £159m funding gap.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said anyone who feels they have been placed in unsuitable accommodation should request a review.

The report, entitled Bleak Houses, found the use of shipping containers as temporary accommodation was leading to cramped conditions and inhospitable temperatures.

" Blisteringly hot "

The Children's Commissioner, Anne Longfield, who visited children affected by homelessness, said it was sad and surprising to learn of the new developments councils were turning to in order to deal with the problem.

"Office block conversions, in which whole families live in single rooms barely bigger than a parking space, and shipping containers which are blisteringly hot in summer and freezing in the winter months," she said.

Although the report does not say where these shipping containers are being used, there are reports of them being converted for use in Bristol, Cardiff and west London.

Office blocks and warehouses are also being used as temporary accommodation for families, with at least 13 office blocks in Harlow, Essex, converted into more than 1,000 individual flats.

In one such building, Templefields House, some units measure 18 sq m and are being used to house whole families, with parents and children sleeping in a single room also used as the kitchen, the report found.

The report said shipping containers were often located on "meanwhile sites" earmarked for future development.

" Intimidating "

As with office block conversions, there is often anti-social behaviour in the areas which means parents keep their children inside the small units instead of letting them out to play.

Ms Longfield also expressed concerns about B&Bs used as temporary accommodation, creating "intimidating and potentially unsafe environments" for children.

The bathrooms in B&Bs are often shared with other residents and vulnerable adults, including those with mental health or drug abuse problems.

Of the 2,420 families known to be living in B&Bs in December 2018, a third had been there for more than six weeks - despite this being unlawful.

Analysis in the report, released on Wednesday, found that in 2017, around two in five children in temporary accommodation had been there for at least six months.

Around one in 20 - an estimated 6,000 children - had been there for at least a year.

The figures used for the analysis of those in temporary accommodation relate to the end of 2018, while the number of those estimated to be sofa-surfing are taken from an official household survey for the year 2016-17.

At risk

The report warns that a further 375,000 children in England are in households that have fallen behind on rent or mortgage payments.

This means thousands more are at financial risk of becoming homeless in the future.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing and homelessness charity, Shelter, said no child should be spending months, if not years, living in a shipping container, office block or emergency B&B.

She said the charity constantly heard of struggling families being forced to accept "downright dangerous accommodation" because they had nowhere else to go.

She said housing benefit must be increased urgently and that three million more social homes needed to be built.

Local Government Association housing spokesman Martin Tett said councils desperately wanted to find every family a secure home.

"However, the severe lack of social rented homes available in which to house families means councils have no choice but to place households in temporary accommodation."

He highlighted a £159m funding gap in councils' homelessness services budgets, and urged the government to fund and give back councils their historic role of building homes with the right infrastructure required.

The DCLG spokesman said the government had invested £1.2bn to tackle all types of homelessness which had helped reduce the number of families in B&B accommodation.
" They just dump you here " : the homeless families living in shipping containers.

The tiny flats are cheap to build, but critics say their use shows " Something has gone very wrong. "


Eye-catchingly, Ikea-ishly modern with its brightly coloured exterior panelling glinting in the morning sun, Meath Court, a prefabricated apartment block in Ealing, west London, built from converted shipping containers, looks for all the world like a stylishly contemporary answer to the UK’s growing homelessness problem.

Cheap, quick to build – it went up in a miraculous 24 weeks on a plot of unused council-owned land – Meath Court hosts 60 households needing emergency housing. According to Ealing council the flats, which have been up and running for over 18 months, offer “a stable, private environment for homeless families with nowhere else to go”. There are others like it in Ealing, as well as Brighton and Bristol.

This week, however, container flats started to look a little less ingenious. The children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, criticised them as unsuitable and unsafe. They were cramped, with nowhere to play or do homework, stiflingly hot in summer, and too cold in winter. That youngsters were growing up in them, she said, proved that “something has gone very wrong with our housing system”.

The housing charity Shelter weighed in, saying housing families in unsuitable converted shipping containers for months at a time was a “sad reflection” of the housing crisis. Poor temporary housing, said the Children’s Society, left youngsters feeling unsafe and anxious, and risked damaging their health and psychological wellbeing.

But what is the truth about container flats? Christine, 28, (not her real name) has lived in Meath Court with her young son for nearly a year. “When you first come here it is a bit daunting.” But her experience has not been traumatic. “I know people want to talk bad about it. I am not saying I want to live here forever because really I don’t. But for the circumstances and choice it is not bad.”

It is far from perfect, she admits. The lack of space is a problem. Getting around the kitchen and living room, no wider than the width of a lorry, is a constant, shuffling pirouette of tidying and avoiding. The tiny sofa is a little more than an arm’s length from the TV which sits awkwardly below eye-level on the floor (nothing can be bolted to the walls).

In the bedroom, her son’s raised bunk lies lengthways down one wall, covering the bottom half of Christine’s bed. Storage for clothes and toys, she says with a smile, is “not ideal”. But she is cheerily adamant it could be worse, and she is not worried about it restricting her active toddler son’s development “although it would be nice to have a big train track in the house like normal kids”.

Heat in the metal containers is a major issue, says Christine. When the temperature hit 34C a few weeks ago, she says they could hardly breathe in the upper floor apartment. She ended up sleeping with her son outside on the walkway. Once she left the window open to try to cool the apartment during the day, but an unexpected shower left puddles of water on her bed and floors.

The factory-converted containers are neat and modish, from the tiny kitchen unit to the wood-effect floors. The interior walls are encased in white plastic panels. The heater works – it never gets too cold in winter, Christine says. Even their critics admit container flats are superior to the often squalid B&B rooms that constitute much emergency homelessness accommodation.

But there are glaring problems, not least the absence of wifi in the building, which means children cannot go online for play or homework, and adds considerable hassle for adults whose interactions with the council landlord and the benefits system are increasingly online.

It is not that converted shipping containers are intrinsically unlivable. But they can struggle to cope with the reality of family homelessness. Another Meath Court tenant, Piotr, shows how almost every surface of his flat is piled high with clothes and toys. Residents have often been evicted from larger homes, and bring with them belongings from that more spacious former existence.

Although the flats were designed as “emergency accommodation”, Piotr has been in Meath Court for 18 months, with no end in sight. Christine was told she would be here for just two months. The scarcity of move-on family homes means there is a danger the flats become just another slightly inadequate form of temporary accommodation. “They just dump you and leave you here,” says Christine.

Built in partnership with a private developer, Meath Court cost around £35,000 per one-bed apartment – but they are not let at social housing rates. Christine’s rent – for now covered by housing benefit – is £270 a week, which is close to local private market rents. A homeless tenant with two young children at another Ealing container development was evicted by the council for falling behind on the rent.

It is easy to see why prefabricated housing looks increasingly attractive to local authorities on the frontline of England’s housing crisis. They are facing rising homelessness, together with a shrinking pool of affordable homes, and a £1bn bill for the 62,000 homeless families and 124,000 children living in all forms of temporary housing in England, an 80% rise since 2010.

Christine and her son are not untypical, forced to leave their private rented studio flat after it was declared a fire hazard and priced out of anywhere similar locally. They spent four months in a B&B (the legal limit for a B&B stay for homeless families is six weeks) before being given a flat in Meath Court. There are 9,000 people on Ealing’s social housing waiting list.

Ealing has three container developments with a fourth prefab (not built from containers) in the pipeline. It also plans 2,500 “genuinely affordable” permanent homes within three years. It blames right-to-buy council house sales and government welfare cuts for a growing housing crisis, leaving it “no choice but to use temporary accommodation to house the sheer volume of homeless households”.

Sharp rise in number of homeless households in England.

Official figures show 32,740 households initially assessed as homeless in first quarter.

The number of households considered homeless in England has risen by more than 3,000 over the course of six months, government statistics show.

Between January and March this year, 32,740 households were “initially assessed” as being homeless, up 11.2% from 29,430 in the previous quarter.

There were 70,430 households initially assessed as being either homeless or threatened with homelessness, a rise of 10.7% from 63,620 in October to December 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reported.

On 31 March there were 84,740 households in temporary accommodation, up 1.4% from 83,610 on the same day last year.

The statistics are based on full or partial returns from 319 out of 326 local authorities. The ministry said it was working with councils to improve the quality of the data.

In November the charity Shelter said its research suggested at least 320,000 people were homeless in Britain.
25% of households at risk of homelessness are in work.

One in four people applying for council support in 2018-19 were in paid work, government data shows.

One in four households in England found to be homeless or under threat of homelessness last year were in paid work at the time, an Observer analysis of government figures reveals.

Data published last week showed that, of more than 260,000 households facing a homelessness crisis, more than a quarter of applications for council support were made by a household member who was in paid employment at the time. In some areas, the proportion of working households facing losing their homes was much higher, reaching more than half in one council, Rutland in the East Midlands.

The findings were condemned by Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, who called on the government to build more social housing and urgently increase housing benefit to allow more people to rent. “We regularly hear from distressed people who are facing the unforgiving reality of holding down a job while having nowhere stable to live. Despite working all the hours they can, too many people have been pushed into the housing emergency by expensive private rents, punishing housing benefit cuts and a chronic lack of social homes,” she said.

“The only way politicians can fix this crisis is with a clear commitment from every party to deliver three million more social homes over the next 20 years. And in the meantime, the government must urgently increase housing benefit so that people on low incomes can access at least the bottom third of the private rental market.”

Under the Homelessness Reduction Act, which took effect in April 2018, councils are required to take preventative measures where households are at risk of homelessness, and relieve it when it occurs.

The figures showed that, of the 42 households for which Rutland council accepted a prevention or relief duty, just over half were in work, with almost half in work in Eden in Cumbria, Richmondshire in North Yorkshire and Broadland in Norfolk.

While these rural districts have relatively low levels of homelessness, Newham council in east London accepted homelessness duties for 1,802 households, of whom more than 40% were in work. In recent years, local housing activists such as the Focus E15 campaign have accused the council of failing to refurbish derelict social housing blocks.

Rokhsana Fiaz, mayor of Newham, said: “This situation has not been created by the policies of the council. It is the tragic result of central government’s relentless austerity drive, their attack on social housing and cuts to local government grants.” She added the council was reducing rough sleeping, as well as investing in new social housing and renovating derelict estates.

In-work households made up 31% of cases in south-east England and 30% in London and the east of England, compared to just 17% in the north east, where housing is cheaper.

Overall, councils in England recorded 118,700 households as homeless and a further 145,020 as being under imminent threat of homelessness in 2018-19. Of those, 71,210 applications for council support were made by a household member who was in paid employment at the time, divided evenly between full-time and part-time work.

The figures are based only on the employment status of the household member who applied for support – so if the applicant was unemployed but another household member was in work, the government data will not pick this up. As a result, the impact of homelessness on working households is likely to be higher than the figures suggest.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, said: “No-one should face homelessness in the UK. It’s shocking that so many working households face losing their home. It’s the result of a crisis of low pay and insecure work, with too many workers not knowing if they’ll make enough money from one week to the next. Britain needs a real pay rise to £10 per hour as soon as possible. We need cuts to housing benefit reversed. And we need exploitative zero-hours contracts banned once and for all.”

Darren Baxter, the housing policy and partnerships manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “It is totally unacceptable that a large number of working families are being locked out of our housing market. It undermines what we stand for as a society that low-paid, insecure work, unaffordable rents and a lack of support from our social security system are trapping people into poverty and homelessness.”

A government spokesperson said: “Our Homelessness Reduction Act is helping people earlier so they are not having to experience homelessness in the first place and we have invested £1.2bn into tackling it head on - our Rough Sleeping Initiative is also helping reduce rough sleeping by a third in the areas with it in place.”
Homeless denied housing over fears they are too poor, study says.

Research shows landlords " Screen out " homeless applicants deemed financial risk.

Homeless people are being denied access to affordable housing because social landlords are routinely excluding prospective tenants who are deemed too poor or vulnerable to pay the rent, a study has revealed.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) found that “screening out” of homeless applicants nominated for newly available lets was widespread as housing associations and local authorities increasingly rationed their shrinking stocks of social homes.

In many cases nominees were refused a home because of the likelihood they would accrue major rent arrears after moving on to universal credit, or because the probability they would be hit by the bedroom tax or the benefit cap had made them a financial risk.

Others were rejected after social landlords identified they had unmet mental health or addiction problems, often because of cuts to local NHS and housing support services. Individuals with unmet support needs were regarded as “too high a risk to tenancy sustainment,” the CIH said.

Some housing associations demanded that prospective tenants who would be moving onto universal credit pay a month’s rent up front, a requirement seen as impossible for many homeless people. Landlords have been badly hit by rent arrears caused by tenants’ five-week wait for a first universal credit payment.

Homeless people were at risk of being caught in a “catch-22 scenario”, the CIH said, with some landlords’ letting practices creating a “perverse situation where the reasons why people may need access to social homes the most can often become barriers to accessing them.”

Faye Greaves, the CIH policy and practice officer, who authored the report, said: “For decades, we have failed to build enough homes, and our welfare safety net is no longer fit for purpose. More and more people are turning to local authorities and housing associations for help to access social housing.

“But that leaves housing providers having to find a balance between people in acute need, local priorities and their need to develop sustainable tenancies. What we found is that relying solely on processes can end up having the opposite effect to that intended.”

It called on ministers to launch a major social housing building programme and scrap right to buy. There has been a net loss of 165,000 social homes in England since 2012, the CIH estimates. It adds that 90,000 of the 340,000 new homes needed every year should be set at social rent. In 2017-18 only 6,434 homes were built for social rent.

The findings will concern critics who believe some housing associations are becoming increasingly estranged from their charitable mission to house homeless people. Many were set up in the late 1960s on a wave of public outrage over growing homelessness typified by the famous BBC drama Cathy Come Home.

Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, called for proper scrutiny of social landlords’ letting practices: “Having a safe and stable home is a human need, and this report paints a sorry picture of the difficulties that people who are homeless, or who are at risk of becoming homeless, face in accessing this basic right.”

Pre-tenancy screening is causing tension between housing associations, which want to minimise the damage to their balance sheet of taking on tenants at risk of rent arrears, as well as councils, which want to exercise their right to nominate social tenancies to reduce growing numbers of homeless people on their books.

The research did not ask what happens to homeless people who are refused social tenancies but the assumption is that most will continue to be housed in high-cost and often unsuitable temporary accommodation in the private sector. Local authorities in England spend nearly £1bn a year on temporary accommodation.

In recent years cuts to government grant funding has meant housing associations have adopted more commercial, profit-orientated approaches, resulting in some being accused of concentrating on building homes for private sale and “affordable rent” at the expense of the people they were set up to help.

The National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said its members were committed to providing homes for those most in need and on the lowest incomes but action was needed to reverse the “dire shortage of social rented housing caused by decades of underinvestment”.

David Bogle of Homes for Cathy, a group of housing associations dedicated to restoring the sector’s commitment to ending homelessness welcomed the report. “Housing associations and local authorities need to be given additional support to develop new social homes and to allocate those homes to those who are homeless and in greatest need.”
Homelessness among old people soars by 39%, official figures reveal.

Local housing allowance is not keeping up with rent increases, campaigners say.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/h ... 08896.html

No surprise here ... LHA frozen and the knock on effects ... as reported in an earlier thread :

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/support- ... lems-34469

The problem ?

LHA has been frozen by the Government ... demand for housing constantly exceeds supplies ... rents are rising almost nationwide ... the GAP between LHA and the current rental levels has grown ... in some areas exploded ... leaving many millions of low earners needing to find monies , many for the first time , to keep a roof over their heads.
Homeless deaths in 2018 rise at highest level - ONS.

Charities call for urgent investigation after 22% rise in recorded homeless deaths.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... -level-ons
185 posts