National Homelessness News
Tenants facing harassment and violence from landlords despite evictions the ban.
Although the government extended its ban on evictions, new figures from the charity Safer Renting reveal that harassment and illegal evictions have almost tripled in parts of the capital’s shadow rental market since lockdown began on 23rd March.
Roz Spencer, director of Safer Renting explains “We regularly see tenants threatened or coming home to find the locks changed and belongings dumped on the street.”
Nationally, data from Citizens Advice shows a 95% increase in people asking for help with illegal evictions between the end of March and end of July, compared with the same period in 2019.
Renters living in some Covid-19 lockdown areas may avoid eviction during the lockdown.
Court proceedings for evictions are due to resume in England and Wales on the 21st of September, having been suspended earlier in the pandemic. However the housing secretary Robert Jenrick, MP has confirmed that in any area experiencing a local lockdown which includes a restriction on gatherings in homes, evictions will not be enforced by bailiffs until the lockdown has been eased. He also announced there would be a ‘truce’ on enforcement over Christmas apart from in cases involving domestic abuse or anti social behaviour
Woman living in ‘extreme poverty’ found dead next to her one year old child.
A 34 year old Ugandan mother died in her flat on the Southside of Glasgow after becoming destitute when she lost her job. Mercy Baguma’s leave to remain in the country had expired and she was having to rely on donations from charities and friends to feed herself and her baby son. The one year old was found by his mother’s side. He was suffering from malnutrition and needed hospital treatment. Mercy has been described as “an amazing mother, sister, best friend and friend, loved by all.”
Homeless charity handing out phones as part of a connectivity drive.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology and digital connectivity to homeless people as a key survival need. With the lockdown leading to the closure of walk-in services including council offices and job centres the ability to make contact using the internet or telephone has never been greater. In response, the homelessness charity Crisis is issuing thousands of devices and data packages.
Rough sleeping rose in the UK during lockdown despite government scheme.
The Guardian newspaper reveals that although the government claimed that it had almost eradicated rough sleeping at the peak of the Covid-19 crisis through its £3.2 million ‘Everyone In’ scheme, reports of rough sleeping rose in the UK during that period.
New figures from the homelessness charity Streetline show the picture is a complex one with an increase in alerts by members of the public about rough sleepers. Charities believe that although the government’s scheme housed many, new people were forced onto the streets after they lost their jobs due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Ban on evictions due to Covid extended until September
In its latest U-turn during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has extended its ban on evictions by another month, warning that it had to take the action to prevent a “wave of homelessness”. Some, including a Senior Tory politician have warned the extension does not go far enough.
Evictions in England were due to restart at the end of August. At least 227 thousand private renters are believed to have fallen into arrears and 174 thousand threatened with eviction by their landlord or agent.
Manchester charity warns of potential ‘homelessness avalanche’
Gary Dunstan, founder of the Manchester-based charity the Street Support Network has warned that homelessness could spiral when the furlough scheme and a ban on evictions come to an end. He told the Manchester Evening News: “Loads of people not paying rent and not paying bills, but how long can that go on? There’s an even bigger demand for rental properties and landlords will say okay, if you can’t pay somebody else will.”
One in five private renting families fear they could become ‘Covid homeless’
Nearly one in five private renting parents are concerned their families will become homeless as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, according to YouGov research carried out for the homeless charity Shelter. Parents living in privately rented homes are almost twice as likely to be worried about homelessness than parents living in secure social homes (9%). Shelter’s research suggests this fear of homelessness may not be unfounded, with 550,000 private renting parents taking on debt to help pay their rent since lockdown.
Councils are flouting the law by ‘secretly’ relocating homeless people to other boroughs.
An investigation by ITV has uncovered clear evidence that a number of English councils are failing to provide housing for some homeless people within their borough. Where it is deemed unavoidable and a homeless person is moved to a new area, local authorities are legally supposed to notify the other council so that social, medical and educational support can be put in place. According to ITV’s research, more than 60 councils are failing to do this.
Coronavirus crisis having catastrophic effect on nutrition for UK’s poorest.
A report by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) suggests that the coronavirus pandemic has led to large numbers of people skipping meals and going hungry, compromising their nutritional health. One in ten people say they have been forced to use food banks.
The snapshot study presents a vivid picture of how people living in poverty have struggled to feed themselves adequately during lockdown.