Greater than 70,000 households have been made homeless for the reason that begin of the pandemic, with tens of 1000’s extra threatened with homelessness, regardless of authorities pledges to guard tenants and forestall evictions, in response to figures compiled by the Observer.
The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, tweeted in March final yr that “nobody ought to lose their house on account of the coronavirus epidemic”.
However regardless of the federal government banning evictions for a lot of the final 10 months, the Observer’s figures present that 207,543 households approached their native council for assist with homelessness or the specter of homelessness between the beginning of April and the tip of November 2020.
Of those, 50,561 have been “owed the prevention responsibility”, that means they have been judged to be threatened with homelessness, whereas 70,309 have been “owed the reduction responsibility”, that means they have been already homeless, which is outlined extra broadly than tough sleeping.
The figures are based mostly on freedom of data information from 231 councils protecting April to November 2020, supplemented with printed authorities information protecting April to June for 78 councils that didn’t reply to the FOI request. Campaigners level to an increase in folks made homeless as a result of family and friends stopped housing them through the pandemic.
Labour’s shadow housing secretary, Thangam Debbonaire, stated: “The federal government promised no person would lose their house due to coronavirus. These figures present that promise has been damaged.
“As an alternative of last-minute U-turns and piecemeal homelessness help, the federal government must help renters, crack down on unlawful evictions, and guarantee no person spends this lockdown on the streets.”
Nick Ballard, head organiser with tenants union Acorn, stated: “As we predicted, a mix of unlawful evictions, reactivated processes from earlier than the pandemic, tenants beneath stress to depart earlier than eviction, and lodgers who’ve by no means been protected has led to a whole bunch of 1000’s going through homelessness.
“The federal government must cease defending the pursuits of price-gouging landlords over working folks and decide to an indefinite eviction ban during the disaster – not only a pause on enforcement – and instantly waive Covid-related lease debt and prolong safety from eviction to lodgers.”
The federal government got here beneath hearth final week for not bringing again the “everybody in” scheme, which noticed tough sleepers housed through the first wave of the pandemic.
David Renard, housing spokesperson for the Native Authorities Affiliation, stated: “It’s probably that councils will want additional help within the troublesome weeks and months forward to maneuver folks into protected and safe housing and forestall additional homelessness. This consists of the elimination of the “no recourse to public funds” situation in order that councils can be certain that everybody who’s weak can entry assist if wanted, no matter immigration standing, and correctly resourcing native welfare schemes to forestall additional hardship and potential homelessness.”
Polly Neate, chief government of Shelter, stated: “Even with the bailiff ban prolonged, we all know folks will nonetheless turn out to be homeless daily as they’ve performed all through this pandemic. Homelessness doesn’t simply come from authorized evictions. It comes from breakdowns in relationships, fleeing home abuse, unlawful evictions, or when these with no actual safety beneath the legislation, like lodgers, are kicked out. And certainly lots of the individuals who have been beforehand ‘hidden homeless’ as a result of they have been sofa-surfing now have nowhere to go resulting from Covid restrictions and face the very actual risk of passing the virus on.”
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Native Authorities didn’t reply to a request for remark.