Homelessness. Probably one of the most frightening realities which is sadly is the cold reality for the 4,500 people, including families, who presented as homeless to the NI Housing Executive between April and June 2017.

 There is no sugar coating this issue and below are a number of shocking statistics.

  • More than 1 in 3 people sleeping rough have been deliberately hit or kicked or experienced some other form of violence whilst homeless
  • Relationship breakdown is a major cause of youth homelessness
  • Every year in the UK 150,000 young people ask their local authority for help
  • On average, homeless people die at just 47 years old
  • Homeless people are over 9 times more likely to take their own life than the general population
  • People sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence.

There are 3 identified categories for homelessness;

Rough Sleeping – all those people we see on the street

Statutory Homelessness – all those people who are without a secure or reasonable place to live

Hidden Homelessness – all those people we don’t know about because they don’t seek help

There are so many different reasons which lead people to become homeless and the following are but a few circumstances which can happen;

  • End of a short term tenancy
  • Parents no longer able or willing to provide accommodation
  • Separation and Divorce
  • Mortgage or rent arrears
  • Domestic violence
  • Unsafe housing

Hopefully this has gone some way to highlighting that homeless is a highly complex issue. The causes of homelessness are different as are the effects of homelessness.

The Effects of Debt on Homelessness

There is another cause of homelessness…debt. So lets think about this 4 letter word for a moment.

Statistics are telling us that consumer debt levels are rising. There are also reported rises of payday loans which are an extremely expensive way to borrow money.

The financial crises of 2008 was a significant turning point for many individuals who moved from being at no risk of losing their home to being at high risk. The reason for the shift is simply that income became negatively affected and lay offs/ redundancies common place.

Monthly mortgage and rent payments are a high priority outgoing for households. However, when a household is heavily exposed to other forms of consumer debt, the debtor tends to lose sight of the debts which are priority and so the real problems begin.

Those creditors which are classified as “unsecured” e.g. electricity suppliers, will not hesitate in commencing their debt collection process which usually involves letters, phone calls, more letters and more calls. The cumulative affect of this is that the debtor, acting under stress and anxiety, becomes more embroiled in a situation which appears increasingly hopeless.

The Citizens Advice Bureau reported that people will tend to pay non-priority consumer debt, i.e. unsecured creditors, ahead of mortgage or rent payments, such is the pressure people find themselves under. With an estimated 5,000 households becoming homeless each year in the UK and a significant proportion of this homelessness being attributable to not prioritising debt payments, people in financial difficulty must make it a priority to seek help in order to reduce the risk of homelessness.

Good advice on debt management will help people to prioritise debt repayments and settle on a payment plan which is specific to individual circumstances and therefore both manageable and sustainable.

Probably one of the most beneficial outcomes of seeking help and developing a plan is that individuals can start to regain peace of mind and let go of some of that anxiety and stress.

It is often said that most are only 3 pay cheques away from homelessness. This is now challenged by suggesting that the difficulties begin after the first pay cheque such is the exposure to consumer debt in todays society.

The point to remember is that no matter how hopeless a situation seems, there is always a solution. Step one is to take action and seek out the right debt management advice, put a plan in place and stick to that plan and the light at the end of the tunnel will start to appear.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised, please do not hesitate to contact Ursula Mayers at Mayers Real Estate in the strictest of confidence.

We look forward to talking to you.

Continue to Fight Against Homelessness!

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