Monday, 27 July 2009

Gimme Shelter

A friend has been made homeless - as a result of a bout of illness, he got behind with his rent payments. One morning his landlord just turned up with a heavy friend and dumped him and most of his belongings outside without a key.

While this is clearly an illegal eviction (the landlord should have taken the court route), my friend is unable to defend himself because he's still not well and besides, he's sure that no-one will believe his version of events. Well, it is fairly monstrous.

Today he rang Shelter to try to obtain help (having already had a pretty hopeless interview with the emergency housing office in his borough - they took the attitude that since he didn't have a court order evicting him, he must have made himself intentionally homeless). He reports that he got an answerphone message that began "Welcome to Shelter. Please note that we cannot provide accommodation..."

Well, what on Earth is Shelter for then?

I am also disappointed that The Salvation Army was unwilling to help him - I have been supporting it with a regular monthly donation for years as I was under the impression that it provided help to the homeless.

1 comment:

keithb said...

Unfortunte for your friend. Keep us posted.

Seems like a poor show from the Sally Army—I though that their boss had left fairly clear instructions about what to do in such cases. I've donated to them myself on the basis of an understanding that they will, for that very reason, help those that others might not.

As you know, I did once take someone in quite literally off the street rather than have them potentially freeze to death while sleeping rough in the entrance to the building where I lived. My experience of ringing around various housing charities then was that "campaigning" and "influencing policy" is far removed from the business of actually housing anyone. That falls to shelters, and such like, often run on a shoestring by smaller groups. And each of these has its own peculiarities, rules and restrictions on who, they will help. They might help you friend, or they might not.