Homelessness can be said to be many things. There are huge links with poverty, with mental ill-health and addiction but people who are homeless vary as to who and where they are. Some people will have been given notice to leave a tenancy and need support to get another, some will be leaving institutions and have nowhere to go, some will be street homeless. Their lives, their journeys and their needs will vary significantly. But what they and homelessness services want for them is a home of their own.
There can be different roads to that home for each person, some having time in temporary accommodation first. That may be ‘low support’, such as temporary shared housing, or may be in a hostel or equivalent. That will depend on the person’s needs and the availability of settled accommodation.
Why have temporary accommodation?
The role of temporary accommodation (‘temp’) is to provide more immediate access to housing for people, as finding somewhere more permanent can take time and resources. If people need somewhere to live quickly, then there may be services able to provide temp.
As well as speed / access, temp can provide other things. We can presume that everyone knows what they want and are entitled to; but that’s not always the case. Some people find temp useful as a place and period where they can decide what they want, whether – for instance – they wish to move into more permanent shared housing, if so where and with whom, whether they wish to stay in the City and / or whether there may be options with people they know. It also provides, for some, a breathing space, sometimes enabling people to open up about issues they are getting ready to address.
So, people have a chance to look at what they want and what may be available, perhaps to talk to friends and family and see what may be best. They should also have the opportunity – with support – to sort out their finances and other plans. That may well include looking at how to secure money for a deposit and / or rent in advance for when they move on, along with money for living essentials. For many people, moving into a tenancy is a big and sometimes expensive step.
Temp also, crucially, provides people with experience of living in shared housing in a relatively safe / supported environment. It gives people a chance to try living in shared accommodation (most temp is shared) and to do so in an environment where support is available, with on-site or via visits. That support, and having a flexible and understanding landlord, can be vital. But it also means that people can gain a housing reference, something many landlords want from people.
It’s important that temporary accommodation is therefore:
That means that temporary accommodation gives people who haven’t got anywhere else somewhere to stay, with time and support to sort things out before they move – we hope – into something more permanent.