Guernsey Press

Money problems main cause of increase in homelessness

Financial struggles are a main reason behind islanders experiencing or being at risk of homelessness, the individuals driving the launch of At Home In Guernsey said yesterday.

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Guernsey Community Foundation CEO Jim Roberts. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 33011170)

In preparing to set up the charity, the Guernsey Community Foundation asked people to contact anonymously and describe their living situation if they were struggling with or at risk of homelessness.

Many of the responses it received were based on money worries.

These included getting a deposit for accommodation, unaffordable rental costs, and in-work poverty.

Mix-adjusted average house prices have risen from £410,830 in early 2018 to just over £600,000 five years later. Over the same period average rents rose from £1,310 to £1,864 a month.

And Citizens Advice reported a 30% increase in clients experiencing homelessness or being at risk of it in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Guernsey Community Foundation CEO Jim Roberts said that homelessness in Guernsey was hidden, and talking about it was still taboo for many.

He hoped that the launch of the charity would provide a ‘centre of gravity’ for people to access authority on the issue, including, in time, figures and statistics.

‘Guernsey is unique in that we don’t have a charity whose sole purpose is to combat homelessness, but that changes today.’

Currently there is no statutory definition of homelessness in the island, but Mr Roberts said that one was being worked on. The benefits of such a move would include the same data being included in statistics across the board.

‘Everybody would be counting the same thing so you can avoid double-counting, and once you can put a number to things it’s easier, theoretically, to drive policy change.’

In terms of the immediate future for At Home In Guernsey, Mr Roberts said that critical to the charity’s development would be the appointment of a chief executive and expansion of its board over the next few weeks and months.

He also said that the charity would employ support workers, who would provide a range of advice on matters such as applications for benefits and social housing, references, intermediary issues between landlords and tenants, and housing costs.

‘By doing this, At Home In Guernsey will take the burden to an extent off some other charities who are having to deal with related problems, and help those charities focus on core service delivery,’ he added.