What is homelessness?
Homelessness is when people do not have a safe, secure home to go to. This doesn’t necessarily mean not having a roof over your head. It can also mean that you may not have a right to be in the accommodation you’re in, or the place you’re staying might not be fit to live in. Some homeless people sleep on the streets or in public spaces but rough sleeping is not the only form of homelessness. Thousands more in London are living in illegal tenancies, squatting or sofa surfing, and they are known as the 'hidden homeless'.
What causes homelessness and who is at risk?
Homelessness can be caused by a range of factors, both personal and systemic. The people we work with are affected by multiple disadvantages which means that they are affected by several issues or problems that make them more at risk of homelessness. These can include issues such as drug and alcohol problems, economic hardship, mental health issues and ongoing effects of trauma in their lives. People can also be made homeless by events in their lives, including family break ups and a lack of familial and social networks to fall back on when times are hard.
In addition to this social housing in London is limited and often oversubscribed. The majority of our clients are single, homeless men who are not the primary carers for any children they may have which means they may not be considered a priority for housing by local authorities. This means they have to look for private rented accommodation. Rents are high in London, and they continue to rise. In 2015-16 rents rose by 7.7% to an average of £1,543 per month. As rents rise, affordable housing becomes harder to find and insecure tenancies mean people vulnerable to homelessness can become homeless very quickly. This is why we are keen to work with people facing homelessness in order to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place.