Homeless: How it Happens, and How We Will Help.
Birmingham city centre has seen an incredible rise of 50% in its homeless population in just one year, the count last autumn reaching 55 rough sleepers. The number for the wider West Midlands including Coventry, the Black Country and Birmingham, was 289. And these are just the ones we know about. How many people are sleeping in doorways or outside train stations that we do not have recorded on any list? It is impossible to know.
Street Will Clear the Streets.
The new West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street – who was elected by the regional vote that took place on May 4th 2017 – has promised that helping the homeless population has been made a priority. The former John Lewis boss said that he will personally commit to the issue of homelessness, but instead of walking up and down every street in the West Midlands and dropping pennies into hopeful hats or coffee cups, he is talking about a more long-term mission for much stronger long-term effects. For example, fighting the problem calls for more housing at a cheaper price, and Street aims to build 25,000 new homes before his first term ends in 2020. An estimated 300,000 will be needed over the next 15 years to meet the demand, and Street is certainly making a fire-cracker start for it. He also plans to spend £200 million in clearing contaminated former industrial land ready for the new builds.
However, he will not stop there. It is fine providing a new place to live for those who have lost their home, but Street knows how important it is to prevent a problem before it even evolves. He is therefore going to face the causes of homelessness too, coming up with creative solutions on how to underlie them before they cut homeowners off at the knees. We cannot wait to hear what he comes up with.
The causes of homelessness are not down to the laziness of homeowners. Most causes are in fact outside the victim’s control, which is why the increasing number is all the more heart-breaking. They can even be broken down into two control groups; personal and structural.
- Individual problems such as the lack of qualifications leading to unemployment.
- A lack of social support.
- Poor health, including both physical and mental.
- Broken relationships, whether that be with partners or family.
- Involvement in crime from an early age.
- Domestic or sexual abuse.
- Institutional backgrounds that make any home life unsettled, such as growing up in the care system or returning from service in the armed forces.
- Unemployment or being made redundant.
- Lack of affordable housing.
- Poor administration of housing benefits.
- Housing policies.
- Loss of shorthand tenancy.
So, how can we help aside from donating cash or food to those poor pleads thrown our way as we walk down the street? Well, on a more personal level, we can prevent or backtrack homelessness by supporting public bodies, such as Andy Street, who are striving to make a difference. Friends and families who are worried about someone becoming homeless can stage interventions, offer advice to aid financial problems, loan moan to aid financial problems or suggest counselling.
But also, on the wider scale, there is plenty of volunteering work to do around the city – we have previously done an article regarding two such charities who require as much help as possible which you can find on our blog for more information.