Our Chief Executive, Duncan Lewis, aired his concerns on Heart Radio this week over spiralling rent costs and how these could tip people into homelessness.
Both Heart Radio’s Hertfordshire and 4 Counties programmes spoke to Duncan after a recent study from Which? revealed that cost-of-living concern among renters and mortgage payers hit a ‘record high’ with the recent interest rate rises.
The survey found that 2.2 million households missed or defaulted on an essential payment such as a housing bill, loan or credit card payment over the month. Two thirds (61%) of those who missed a household bill payment reported that they missed more than one.
Commenting on the crisis, Duncan said: “Rising rents are an issue for all kinds of vulnerable people and families who are particularly vulnerable to cost-of-living increases, and older people, who may not have the options to try to increase their income to keep in line with these.
“Rising rents will definitely have an impact on us in two ways; it’s more likely to push people more over the edge and into homelessness, so there will be greater demand for our services. But also, and just as importantly, it makes it more difficult for people to move on and leave our community and re-establish their independence if there’s a real shortage of rental properties out there, and those that are out there are increasingly expensive.
“Facing homelessness is a terrible prospect for anyone and it can have all sorts of knock-on effects. People may try to relieve the stresses and strains by potentially turning to addiction. It can be the cause of mental health issues, it can lead to relationship breakdown, so there are all kinds of negative impacts from the prospect of facing homelessness.
“From our perspective, it means that increasingly the people who come to us for help have a range of complex needs which stretch our organisation more from day to day.”
He added: “We’ve seen an increase in referrals and our occupancy levels have increased since this time last year. We’re also seeing an increase in the complex needs that people come to us with; they’re needing help across a far broader range of services, so it’s not just about putting a roof over their head, it’s allowing them to work through a whole range of issues.
“It’s an increasingly long journey for some people back to independence, but it’s one that we do our best to help them with.”
Heart Radio reported that the UK government is being urged to do more to help mortgage holders and renters with soaring costs as household concerns escalate.
According to Which?’s Consumer Insight Tracker, 79% of mortgage owners and 81% of renters are worried about housing costs, the highest level since the survey began in 2013. Meanwhile, there has been a steady increase in housing cost concern among renters over the past two years, with 62% saying they were worried in August 2021.
Back in July, Emmaus UK expressed concerns over the number of homeless households stuck in temporary accommodation in England, which hit a record high earlier in the year, according to figures released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLHC).
The figures showed that 104,510 households were found to be living in temporary accommodation between January and March this year – up 10% from the same period last year.
A large proportion of those affected were children, with 131,370 found to be living in temporary accommodation, which includes hostels and B&Bs.
For many people who have experienced homelessness, losing their self-esteem can be the most damaging part of their experience. Being on your own, with no support around you can be soul destroying, leaving you feeling worthless.
Finding your way out of that situation isn’t easy, particularly when the only options available are temporary fixes, offering a bed for the night but little to occupy your days.
Emmaus is different because it provides a home for as long as someone needs it in an Emmaus community. This gives people the opportunity to take stock of their lives, deal with any issues they might have, and often re-establish relationships with loved ones.
If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, find out how to get help from Emmaus.
You can support our work people experiencing homelessness: donate today to make a difference. You can also support us in this year’s St Albans Sleepout by braving a night out on 10 November. To take part, visit our Sleepout page.
Additionally, whenever you shop at an Emmaus charity shop or social enterprise, you are making a difference. Each purchase supports Emmaus Hertfordshire to help companions rebuild their lives.
Visit our About Us page for more information and how you can help.