News / homelessness

Fears homelessness could rise to “catastrophic” levels in Bristol

By ellie pipe, Friday Jul 24, 2020

A perfect storm is brewing that could lead to a “catastrophic” rise in the number of people facing homelessness, warn charity leaders.

Caring in Bristol bosses have outlined their growing concern that withdrawal of the government’s furlough scheme in August, combined with an end to the ban on evictions and rise in unemployment will see many reach crisis point.

The charity is calling on authorities not to turn a blind eye to those at risk of falling through the gaps and has also launched a #NoOutsiders campaign, asking the public to help support frontline services at a time when they are really feeling the strain.

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It follows a warning from city leaders that we are approaching a “cliff edge” as government support schemes rolled out to help people through the coronavirus outbreak come to an end. Bristol’s mayor has joined others across the country to lobby the government for the funds and resources to help people off the streets for good.

The number of households in the city that have applied for the council tax reduction scheme due to a change in their financial circumstances has rocketed to 5,722, a rise Marvin Rees says gives an indication of the extent to which families are struggling.

Caring in Bristol director Ben Richardson said “As a local homelessness charity, we are working daily to support our clients, but we fear that local services will be stretched beyond their limits as furlough ends, evictions begin and lack of available jobs and safe overnight shelter take its toll.

“We are especially concerned about those with no recourse to public funds, and the dramatic increase in evictions that are imminent.”

During the pandemic, the government put a ban on landlords evicting tenants but as this comes to an end in August, Shelter predicts some 230,000 renters across the country are at risk of eviction.

Volunteers have been working tirelessly to get food out to people in need during the coronavirus pandemic – photo courtesy of Caring in Bristol

Generation Rent estimates that 17 per cent of tenants have fallen into arrears since the beginning of the pandemic, and the number of families at risk of eviction due to late or missed rent payments is triple that of last year.

Ben continues: “As proud Bristolians, we want #NoOutsiders to talk about the crisis through a Bristol lens.

“Working at the grassroots of the homelessness crisis with over ten community partners and 150 volunteers seven days a week to support those at the cliff-edge of support has fuelled our campaign and we hope it draws much needed attention to the housing issues on the horizon.

“Those who have been hit hard by the economic fallout of the pandemic must be guaranteed safe, affordable and secure housing and the support to maintain their homes, to avoid even more people being made homeless. No one should be left without a safe place to stay ever, including because of the Covid-19 fall-out.”

Read more: Supporting people off the streets in the midst of a global pandemic


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