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Single and homeless? Who will help you?

Single and homeless? Who will help you? (Refuge / Emergency Accommodation)

News by administrator @, Monday, April 20, 2009, 15:31

Homeless Link research suggests it depends on who you are and where you come from, and that there is no emergency accommodation for single homeless people* in 1 in 4 local authority areas.

The economic downturn is affecting everyone and placing an increasing number of people at risk of homelessness. While local authorities have increased their focus on preventing homelessness, they only have a duty to help house homeless people who are considered to be a priority need, for example, those with children. This is where the voluntary sector comes in, supporting those individuals who do not qualify for council help.

Two reports published today by homelessness umbrella group, Homeless Link, reveal a picture of the sector that, while in the grips of recession itself, is increasingly seeing “new” homelessness, driven by the economic downturn, with more expected.

The Survey of Needs and Provision (SNaP) shows a large sector with an estimated turnover of £800 million, providing up to 50,000 bed spaces for single homeless people across the country and employing 23,000 people, a quarter of whom are volunteers. The sector is providing a wide range of services to a diverse group of people to help them move out of homelessness for good.

However, another Homeless Link report exposes significant geographic limitations in accommodation options for those not elegible to council support, suggesting that 1 in 4 local authorities have no emergency accommodation at all for this group. Their options are therefore to move out of the area or to sleep on the streets. The survey also suggests that the majority of respondents don’t believe their ‘emergency provision’ is sufficient to meet the demand from single homeless people in their area.

Jenny Edwards, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said, “Our members are telling us that demand for their services is increasing as a result of the economic downturn. At this time it is vitally important that there is a safety net available in every local authority area so that people do not have to leave their home area to find emergency help with housing at the time they are most vulnerable.

Our SNaP report shows us how important the services are that the sector provides and the wide range and number of people they are helping. But our survey of emergency accommodation has revealed disturbing geographical gaps that could have a devastating impact on an increasing number of individuals as people continue to lose their jobs.

It is important that we both protect funding to the sector at this time and support local authorities without provision to put something in place.”

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