Homelessness can happen so quickly – and to anyone

Homelessness can happen so quickly – and to anyone

Chris is a grafter. Always has been.

His painting and decorating business was what he loved and was a huge part of his identity. He always earned enough to be happy and never imagined he’d struggle to afford a home.

But one fateful day, he fell from a roof whilst finishing off the one last paint job of the day and his life turned upside down.

Chris woke up in hospital to find he’d sustained severe injuries including a broken neck and brain damage. His girlfriend and brother, Dubby, had to teach him how to speak again.

The trauma after that was just … there’s no words for it.

When Chris left the hospital, he returned to the caravan that he’d lived in for years. It was hardly ideal accommodation for someone recovering from life changing injuries – it was cold as it was still winter – but it was his home.

No longer working, he quickly found himself unable to pay the rent. The arrears began to build up and eventually his landlord had to ask him to leave. In a matter of a few months, Chris had lost his health, his job, and now, he was about to lose his home.

Chris went to the council for support. Despite having lived at the same address for years, the council viewed Chris’s home as ‘temporary’ because it was a mobile home. They rejected his emergency housing application, despite proof of address dating back years and doctor’s notes proving he was unfit to work.

I should have been in a calm, calm environment

Chris needed to feel safe and focus on getting better, but now he was worried about ending up on the streets.

That’s when his brother, Dubby, contacted Shelter.

He was put in touch with Justin, a Shelter Legal Adviser, who got to work straight away. He put together a case that clearly demonstrated why the council legally had to find somewhere for Chris to live. It took a lot of emails, plenty of phone calls and carefully selected legal phrasing.

Using his expert knowledge of housing law, he proved that Chris’s home was in fact his permanent address. As soon as he established this, the council made Chris a priority case and he was immediately offered a new, permanent home to live in.

Chris said to Justin:

I always thought I was invincible.  

I think most of us do, until the worst happens. He was terrified that one moment had made him so vulnerable – that homelessness can happen so quickly, to anyone. Chris said that, even now, he nearly cries when he thinks about how alone and helpless he felt in the face of homelessness.

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