Chris and his pregnant wife are sleeping rough in Central London. Chris says the couple were living in a hostel that was closed down. Another hostel then wanted £300 for them to move into a cockroach invested room, and although they were willing to loan the couple £300, without benefits or income there was no way to pay it back.
From my understanding in the UK, “hostel” is a term used for some form of subsidized social housing. In the U.S. we would say “shelters”, but here, facilities are more like SRO (single room occupancy) and not the dormitory ‘100 people in one room on cots’ style like we see in all over America. The interesting part here is that each city’s council is responsible for the people who are born or have ties to that area. So if you are not from that area, you are not able to receive benefits or housing.
This is happening in the U.S. too. Cities only want to use the funding they have on local folks. Most every community at some point has talked about asking homeless people for IDs to make sure they are from that area. People who cannot prove that they are born, live, or have ties to an area like work, would then be moved on and not given support.
I cannot speak for the UK, but I do understand why that is happening in America – although I completely disagree with it. Governments are receiving less funds to help people while the need for help is increasing. The thinking is by only helping “our own”, we will have more impact with the funds we have.
THE PROBLEM IS by the nature of their situation most homeless people are transient. People go to where they think they will be able to find support, here that is often London. The other problem is most every homeless person has had their identification lost or stolen. Requiring homeless people to prove they are from a specific area is ridicules.
Chris says outreach teams have been trying to help them, but they want to split them up into different hostels, which is a very similar problem we have in the States. Couples do not want to separate, and more often than not will remain on the streets instead of going into different shelters.
Special thanks to St Mungo’s Broadway and Mencap.