If ever I wonder what hateful people think, I head straight for my search term counter. Mindful that I cannot unsee the horror, I brace myself for an onslaught of cruel and unusual bigotry in the form of statements such as ‘I force girls,’ or troubling comments on my unintentional SEO bait blogpost about rubber gloves.
Then come the truly hideous questions about how to throw tenants onto the streets without notice.
But sometimes my dwindling faith in humanity is reanimated by questions like this – ‘How do I give a homeless person somewhere to live?’
I’m glad someone out there is so kind, because not many people will house those formerly roofless. This is mostly due to erroneous perceptions about ‘the homeless’. Not everyone on the enormous list of those turning to councils for help are chaotic, disruptive, a risk, nor did they bring the situation on themselves. There but for fate walk you and I.
As for the common prejudice about drug use well… if I’d spent Winter sleeping outside I would hoover up any medication offered to me, legal or not, as, dear reader, would you.
Furthermore, when in the process of setting life back on track, we’d be lacking the litany of references required – employer previous landlord, banks, and wouldn’t have the vital six weeks upfront or months deposit.
Some councils help. They underwrite tenancies, act as guarantors, overseeing tenancies then liaising with owners. The Social Fund and Crisis loans from The DWP are long gone, replaced by pay day loans, so this help is essential.
Hostels are oversubscribed. If you’re recovering from mental illness or substance addiction issues, this complicates housing even more. This time is the most extreme form of gap year – months spent in recovery, or looking for work must be explained away to those who might judge you and so refuse to house you.
The next hurdle is the race for housing within limits set by benefit caps, or local housing allowance, which limit where poor people without problems, not just those with chaotic backstories are permitted to live.
People without homes are no longer given priority in social housing, but sent straight into the hellish private sector badlands and left to fend for themselves. They have just six months safety. Renewal time comes round so fast.
Perhaps some people could share houses with rent paid in return for care or support; I know schemes like this exist, but they need to be patrolled or regulated, so can be expensive. Still; better than a bench.
Yes, I know that some people are homeless after disruptive or abusive or criminal behaviour, but they’re a minority. Most people simply undergo challenges like unemployment or relationship breakdown, then mental health problems – the three horsemen of homelessness.
So we need some enlightenment – more people like the person who inspired this post. Yes, let’s be realistic – kindness is never simple. But since it’s so easy for anyone to fall between the cracks, we need to be more prepared to accept that anyone – literally anyone could end up on the streets.