Homelessness is a continuous concern at the forefront of our minds here in Worcestershire. One in ten people in England say they have personally experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, that’s an awful amount of people who are going without the comforts we take for granted everyday.
Statistics show that there was an increase of 16% homeless and rough sleepers in the past year and since 2010, those figures have seen a total increase of 134%. According to GOV.UK, the total number of households in temporary accommodation on 30th June THIS YEAR was 78,180, up an astonishingly dreadful 7% on last year and 63% since 2010.
The statistics for those who move on from temporary accommodation or emergency sheltering is just as bleak. For those we were ready to move on, 27% of people reported having to wait 6 months or more and of those who did move on only 22% of them were housed in the social sector.
Where’s the support?
With statistics this drastic you have to wonder where all the support is? But that’s the problem, support especially in terms of funding is at an all time low. According to recent studies almost half of accommodation projects in England have suffered a dramatic decrease in funding. 31% of Day Centres in Britain who provide the front line support for those in desperate need have experienced a brutal decrease in funding with a further 7% of centres still waiting to hear whether their funding will be cut.
It is becoming increasingly more difficult to get charitable trust funding as they receive increased demands.
-Survey respondent, Support for single homeless people in England: Annual Review 2016. (P.g 28).
But where is all the housing? We see new houses going up everyday, so why are we not utilising the space? Well, the number of new government-funded houses built for rent has plummeted a shocking 97% since 2010. Previous to this more than 36,700 new socially rented homes were built in England in 2010-2011 but by the end of the 2016 financial year that figure had fallen to just 1,102 new socially affordable houses.
The absolutely abysmal efforts towards social housing came to a peak in June this year with the tragedy that occurred at the Grenfell tower in Kensington. Critics have suggested that this just highlights in the saddest way the disregard of affordable social housing in today’s society. To put into perspective just how deficient today’s society is the Charted Institute of Housing has warned that the current fall in the number of social houses is expected to continue dropping and predicted that, by 2020, 250,000 social homes will have been lost in 8 years. As well as losing thousands of social homes, local councils have almost completely stopped building now homes. Just 1,890 were completed by 353 councils in England between 2015-2016, an average of just 5 per council.
Where do the private landlords fit into all this?
On one of the UK’s largest property advertising websites spareroom.co.uk, out of 11,806 British letting adverts only 2% of the private landlords accepted DSS tenants (Tenants who claim housing benefit).
The above images are all screenshots from various property advertisement websites that I accessed in about the space of 3 minutes. In those few minutes every single property I looked at did not accept DSS tenants. With some 3,882,557 people who are housing benefit claimants in England this disregard for a nearly 4 million potential tenants is sickening.
So why are landlords not renting to housing benefit claimants when there are nearly 4 million of us! According to a government survey of landlords in 2011, the most common reasons were due to expected payment delays (17%), unpaid rent (16%) and worries about damage being caused to assets (16%). Meanwhile the biggest excuse was in relation to a landlords ability to get a mortgage and Insurance premiums.
“No new mortgages will be advanced to landlords whose tenants received benefits.
-Buy to Let Lender, The Mortgage Works (2012).
We did our own bit of investigating here in Kidderminster, having received information in the past from Mortgage assistance companies about accepting DSS tenants we rang them to see whether this was in fact the case. Their response was that it would be risky to rent to a housing benefit claimant and that it would be difficult to find a landlord who would accept an individual on this basis. A landlord would most definitely incur higher premiums on their insurance.
Increasing numbers of landlords are taking adopting this stance, in the last 3 years alone there has been a 50% drop in the number on DSS tenants in private properties.
There are also worries that the introduction of Universal Credit will have a negative impact on tenants, making benefit claimants even less attractive to landlords leaving more and more individuals struggling .
So what support can YOU AND I provide?
Here at Norgrove Sales and Lettings we have a fantastic relationship with our landlords and tenants, whilst also working closely with the local councils. We are also a supporter of the Worcestershire Homeless Appeal. The Worcestershire Intervention Team (WHIT) also work with local and national government to improve the policies that affect those who are experiencing homelessness. Their aim is to challenge the stigmatisation surrounding homelessness and bring about change.
Their services provide outreach programmes for homeless individuals in need of help across Worcestershire. They also offer appointment times if you need to speak to someone. As well as their own initiatives they can point you towards the right services such as the food bank or local councils who can work with property experts such as ourselves to help find a home for these individuals.
Can you spare a coat?
Here at Norgroves we are currently collecting spare coats for the Appeal, so if you rummage around in the back of the cupboard and you find any spare coats, no matter what the size or colour please do drop them into us at Norgroves Sales and Lettings in Kidderminster (Click here for directions)
If you need to speak to someone or get in touch with the Worcestershire Intervention Team please click on the link to find out more about their services and get in touch. Similarly we would like you to get in touch with your thoughts and ideas, if you are doing anything to help out with the appeal or just want to have your say, comment below!
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