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Catching Lives charity in Canterbury predicting surge in homelessness

A dire warning of a surge in homelessness has come from a charity which helps get rough sleepers off the streets.

Canterbury-based Catching Lives fears the numbers will rise following the recent lifting of the government ban on evictions, which was implemented during the Covid lockdown.

Terry Gore is from Catching Lives

The charity, which runs a day centre and winter night shelter, is also worried that the predicted rise in unemployment will lead to more private renters falling behind with their accommodation bills and losing their homes.

"As a charity on the ground, face-to-face with rough sleepers on a day-to-day basis, it is important to realise the reality of the situation we currently face regarding the influx of clients we expect over the coming months," says Catching Lives manager Terry Gore.

"Already we are experiencing quite a spike with the number of daily visitors to our centre rising almost three-fold and that will likely worsen as we head into winter with a number of worrying factors playing out."

Mr Gore says the eviction ban ended on May 31 and it is estimated one in 10 private renters across the UK are now behind with their rent with many being served with eviction notices in recent weeks.

"Although the notice period for most of these is four months, in cases where there are many months of unpaid rent, the period has been reduced to two months from August 1," he said.

"This could see a huge number of people being evicted from their homes by the beginning of October."

Catching Lives general manager Terry Gore
Catching Lives general manager Terry Gore

Mr Gore worries the phasing out of the furlough scheme next month will also lead to further job losses.

The city council has been awarded £1 million in funding by the government to help tackle homelessness, including among those leaving prison, and is working with Catching Lives and the charity Porchlight.

The authority's rough sleeper initiative has seen 352 individuals taken off the streets and into permanent accommodation in less than three years

But Mr Gore fears it will not be enough as the number of people ending up homeless continues to rise.

This culmination of factors provides a bleak picture and in projecting the potential rise in the number of rough sleepers against the increase in government funding for the homeless, these numbers don’t add up. There will simply not be enough to go around."

Rough sleeping is expected to rise
Rough sleeping is expected to rise

"With this in mind, we are making preparations for this increase by ensuring we have food supplies to provide to those who find themselves short/struggling due to the effects of the pandemic.

"In addition to this, we are increasing the number of volunteers and encouraging people to raise awareness of Catching Lives by running fundraisers and activities to help us to continue our vital work."

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