You’ve got a house, you’ve got a job… then suddenly it all falls apart. That’s a reality for thousands of people living in Britain today.
The number of employed people who are living on the streets or in temporary accommodation because their salary isn’t enough to afford a home is rising.
Once they become homeless they will, on average, lose their job within just two weeks.
And the problem is so severe that, in Manchester, a new hostel has opened with rooms specifically for people who are “employed homeless.”
Stop Start Go is a converted solicitors’ office in the north of the city, aiming to cut down the numbers of people who lose their jobs within weeks of becoming homeless.
“It’s shocking, really shocking, that through no fault of your own you can end up in my position,” 68-year-old Michael Burns, one of the first people to move into the hostel, told the Guardian.
Burns, who works 15 hours a week as a cleaner at Manchester town hall, was evicted from his home after he found himself unable to afford the £45 a week he was paying for a shared house.
“It’s a really big weight off me,” he said, about getting a room at the hostel. “Every time I went to bed in my old place I would lie awake thinking how the hell do I get out of this situation.”
As part of the hostel service, people living in these rooms will have a support worker to help them find their own accommodation in 4-6 weeks, as well as support and training to help them keep their jobs, according to the Manchester Evening News.
The number of homeless people in Manchester has increased tenfold in the past seven years. In Britain, more than 300,000 people are officially recorded as homeless or living in inadequate housing.
It’s a serious problem and lives are being lost.
Rough sleeping means people are more likely to die young — with an average age of death for men at 47, and for women at 43 , compared to the average national age of 77. Between 16 and 24, homeless people are at least twice as likely to die as those living in houses; for 25-34, the ratio increases to four or five times; and at 35-44, to five to six times.
The number of employed people living in temporary or short-term accommodation in the UK has seen a steep increase, from 15,520 in 2013 to 22,100 in 2015, according to figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions. And the figure is thought to have continued its dramatic rise since.
Campaigners say a law change that has made it easier for landlords to evict tenants is now the biggest cause of homelessness, according to the Guardian. The change — Section 21 orders — make it possible for landlords to remove renters for no reason, with two months’ notice, at any time after a six-month tenancy.
Stop Start Go is funded by the council, a local housing charity called the Edward Holt Trust, and the Greater Manchester Mayoral Fund — spearheaded by major Andy Burnham, who donates 15% of his monthly salary.
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