Cost Of Living Crisis Hits The Homeless

A man who was homeless for 25 years but finally got off the streets and into his own home, says he is in a desperate situation and is worried he could soon be evicted, reports the Mirror.

James, who asked to change his name to protect his identity, is happy to speak about the impact the cost of living crisis is having on him. Having been on the streets for 25 years, James got a place to stay in September thanks to Manchester City Council and a housing agency. But he says the pile-up of bills and debts has left him in a desperate situation once again.

“When I was on the street I was never in debt, but when I tried to get somewhere to settle, debts have gone through the roof,” he said. “I should be on £300 and odd a fortnight with my illnesses but I’m only on £200 and I’ve got my loans coming out which is leaving me in arrears. I’ve got a new flat and I’m in arrears on that, my council tax comes through and my electricity and gas have gone through the roof.” James says that even though he has a place to stay he’s back on the streets to prepare himself for the inevitability of being evicted. “I’ve still got my gaff, but what’s the point of living there when I can’t afford gas, electric and can’t get no help. I feel like I’m going to lose it soon, very soon. Since all them bills come in I’ve been on the streets five, six weeks, just to get used to it again, because I know it’s gonna happen again.”

Darren Dowling, who has been on the streets of Manchester for 17 years, says he has already seen new faces on the streets and expects more. The 52-year-old, originally from Wales, moved to the city for work at 17, but says he has been on and off the streets since losing his leg in an accident that left him unable to work, and then losing his flat in 2005. “Manchester has changed over the years, buildings popping up everywhere, but there’s still not enough places to put homeless in,” he says. “People are going private, and when they’re going private they can’t afford to rent and they’re getting kicked out. There’s not money to go around from social, the DWP.”

Sitting with Darren on London Road is Michaj Mankowski, a Polish man who came to the country back in 2019. He said he ended up on the streets after his ex-girlfriend ‘ran away with their child to Poland’. He said the experience caused his head to ‘explode’ which lead to him losing his welding job and eventually his home. He said that he has seen a steady decrease in the amount of people giving money to the homeless.

“It’s hard, five minutes ago I was crying,” he says. “It’s too much, people think we just sit down and ask for money, but no.” It’s very tough mentally. There isn’t much help, sometimes we have outreach groups giving food and sometimes there is nothing. There are some organisations out here that can help you, but the problem is getting to them because once you reach them everything is gone.”

And 24-year-old Joshua Plummer said he ended up on the streets due to his own behaviour and his inability to cope with mental health issues. He says he doesn’t know where he’s going to sleep tonight and isn’t too keen in using the A Bed Every Night scheme (ABEN) spearheaded by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham. “I’ve got PTSD anxiety and depression and staying in hostels random people come to your door asking for things, and I can’t deal with that. I’ve heard it’s the same with the bed for a night scheme and it only runs during winter,” he added. “It’s not nice being out here, it’s making me upset talking about it. I’ve got a place that tries to help me with everything but because of my behaviour it’s hard. I’ve applied for PIP but I don’t know how much I’ll get with that. It’s hard out here. I do feel forgotten.”

A GMCA spokesperson said: “A Bed Every Night was launched in 2017 with a clear ambition: to end the need for rough sleeping in Greater Manchester. The service offers shelter and personal support on an emergency basis to people who would otherwise be spending the night out on the street, and those accessing ABEN are given help with basic needs, access to healthcare, and move-on options. Twenty-one organisations across Greater Manchester provide accommodation including dedicated provision for women, LGBTQ+ people, those with pets, and people with No Recourse to Public Funds. Safety, assurance, and scrutiny practises are in place across all ABEN locations, with a view to ensuring that everyone who uses the service can get the support and the security they need.”

“More than 500 spaces of emergency accommodation are always available throughout the whole year to anyone who needs them, with extra provision put in place at times of greater pressure or risk, including the winter months. From April to December 2021, 2,418 accommodation placements were made in ABEN services, and 41 per cent of people moved on positively into other housing settings, the majority to supported accommodation and private rented tenancies.”

“ABEN has now developed into a multi-million pound project, with investment from all parts of Greater Manchester public services and national Government. It is one part of a wide-ranging series of measures to address the challenges of housing inequality and homelessness in our city-region, including our Homelessness Prevention Strategy, and Greater Manchester Leaders recently agreeing funding commitments worth £37.1m to support ongoing accommodation and support programmes for the next five years.”