Homeless news updates

from The Guardian

Westminster council could send homeless families to Coventry

Those who lose homes in capital may increasingly be rehoused outside London as local authorities struggle with cuts

People who lose their homes in one of London’s richest boroughs could be sent to live in temporary accommodation as far away as Coventry under new plans announced by the City of Westminster.

Westminster council says rising homelessness, coupled with housing benefits cuts and government plans to force local authorities to sell off social housing gives it no option but to place more families outside the capital.

Related: Britain’s shame: the people who are homeless, even though they’re in work | Aditya Chakrabortty

Related: Tenant wins battle to stop Westminster council moving her out of London

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

Soup kitchen run by nuns and funded by self-help guru approved in California

Forced to leave current location after rent hike, new soup kitchen was approved in gentrifying Mission district despite strenuous objections from some residents

A trinity comprised of a self-help guru, a technology magnate and a group of San Francisco nuns was victorious Thursday over a group of residents upset over the prospect of more homeless people in their neighborhood.

At a hearing of the city planning commission, an order called Fraternite Notre Dame received approval to open a new soup kitchen in the Mission district, despite strenuous objections from some locals. The nuns learned last year that they would have to leave their current location after being hit with a rent hike and received help from an unanticipated source.

Related: Soup kitchen puts San Francisco nuns on front lines of city’s housing crisis

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

Homeless in Britain: ‘I graduated with honours – and ended up on the streets’

After James Beavis told his story of sleeping rough in London for a month to raise money for Crisis, our readers shared their thoughts – and personal experiences – about homelessness in the UK

I knew someone who, despite her many prestigious qualifications, ended up sleeping rough because of her mental status. Homelessness can affect anybody. It’s not just people that we believe may have fallen off the edge of society. It can be you or me, or someone we once knew. Please do not look away. (Jeff Hurll)

I think what many fail to realise is that every man and woman has a breaking point

To just assume a homeless person should be grateful for whatever they are given is also dehumanising them

Related: ‘Spat on and ignored’: what I’ve learned from a month sleeping rough in London

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

Four homeless people die of exposure in Portland in first 10 days of 2017

Amid unusually brutal winter with lack of affordable housing, mayor will convert administrative building into shelter and opened up emergency beds

Four homeless people have died of exposure on the streets of Portland, Oregon, in the first 10 days of 2017, a toll that has horrified the city and focused attention on its housing crisis.

“Any loss of life is unacceptable,” newly inaugurated Portland mayor Ted Wheeler said. “This is a wealthy nation and we’re a prosperous and progressive community.”

Related: Soaring rents in Portland lead to more evictions and homelessness

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

Miracle of the church that was open 24-7 | Letters

Congratulations to my friend and colleague Giles Fraser for welcoming the man who broke into his church, lit all the candles and stayed to pray (Loose canon, 6 January). It might have been better still had the church never been locked. When I was vicar of a Wren period church on the Greenwich-Lewisham border, the church council decided never to lock the glass-plated door fronting on to the street. We believed that a church may be needed just as much by night as by day. It was on the path of a good many tramps crossing Blackheath on the way to London. The sanctuary was lit. It cost us only the electricity.

Some came just to sit. Some to pray. A few to sleep. They caused no trouble. Albert stayed, on and off, for years and was a self-appointed guardian. A cup of tea was on offer from the vicarage opposite.

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

The rise of the cashless city: 'There is this real danger of exclusion'

Cities from Sweden to India are pushing for a totally cash-free society. But as more shops and transport networks insist on electronic payments, where does this leave the smallest traders and poorest inhabitants?

Scrolling through my online bank statements at Christmas, I was surprised to find I had not removed cash from an ATM for well over four months. Thanks to the ubiquity of electronic payment systems, it has become increasingly easy to glide around London to a chorus of approving bleeps.

As more shops and transport networks adapt to contactless card and touch-and-go mobile technology, many major cities around the world are in the process of relegating cash to second-class status. Some London shops and cafes are now, like the capital’s buses, simply refusing to handle notes or coins.

It’s senseless to try to make everyone go cashless. The government has lost sight of the plight of the common man

Related: Reach out, raise money or remove: how should cities deal with street begging?

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

How a design for city living went wrong | Letters

Re your article (We need spaces to live but we also need places to make things, 7 January): twenty years ago Richard Rogers’ Towards an Urban Renaissance put sustainability at the core of a vision of compact cities where people worked, rested and played with minimum car use. Residential densification of central London and other large English cities would be delivered through regeneration and the judicious imposition of tall buildings. The result was a tall building frenzy driven by international capital, with many central London flats used as vacant safety deposit boxes. Meanwhile, a new population was sucked in to join Londoners who no longer wished to leave the thriving capital, and the housing crisis deepened.

In desperation, successive mayors have identified over 40 “opportunity areas” for intensive housebuilding, involving a land grab of thousands of hectares. Unfortunately these are all key industrial areas where the nuts and bolts of the city are manufactured and many thousands of Londoners employed. For example, one company in the Vauxhall “opportunity area” – employing 100 “low skill” workers who live close by and work through the night preparing raw fish to supply many West End restaurants – is threatened with yet another tall speculative residential building. In the name of sustainability, we are building a city where ordinary people have nowhere to live and nowhere to work.
Michael Ball
Reclaim London

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

Love review – homelessness brought close to home

Dorfman, London
The shared indignities of life in temporary accommodation hit home in Alexander Zeldin’s new play at the National

Love is set in a hostel offering temporary accommodation for people without housing. In a National Theatre Platform talk last week, Love’s writer/ deviser/ director Alexander Zeldin explained that the play was created with the help of people in this situation (I could see no mention of this in the programme). It is the lead-up to Christmas. Dean and Emma have recently arrived with his two children, Paige (8) and Jason (12). Emma is pregnant and studying; Dean is unemployed (sensitively pitched performances from Janet Etuk and Luke Clarke).

All four are billeted in one room, which opens on to a functionally furnished communal area: plastic chairs, tables; kitchen in one corner; the shared bathroom is accessed (by those quick enough to get in there) from this room. A single framed Jack Vettriano print brightens the dullness (designer Natasha Jenkins took elements of the set directly from accommodation they visited while developing the material). This middle-class-seeming (by accent) family is here because their landlord evicted them, having raised their rent to a level they could not afford.

All are in the same position – trapped by the insufficiencies of the state system

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness