My experiences with renters facing homelessness

This is a guest blog from Louise, who works in Shelter’s Newcastle service.

As a support and guidance worker for Shelter in Newcastle, I want to share something urgent with you that we need your help with.

Over the last five years, the number of private renters I’ve seen facing homelessness has gone up and up. I’ve seen first-hand how this is connected to the freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

An opportunity we can’t miss

It used to be okay. When someone was struggling to pay their rent, LHA would cover the difference. But after years of cuts and freezes, it just isn’t enough. If we don’t do something now, it’s only going to make more people homeless.

The government will announce its budget on the 22 November – and it’s vital that they use this opportunity to unfreeze LHA. It means the world to me that Shelter campaigners are contacting their MPs and demanding the government ends this freeze – have you?

Demand the government unfreezes LHA

If a family can’t afford to pay their rent, they’re going to get evicted. These are people doing their best, often in work, who simply can’t afford the sort of rents landlords are now asking.

Even if they do manage to find somewhere cheaper to live, it’s almost impossible to find a home big enough. I know a family of seven who are living in a two-bedroom home – but it’s better than being homeless.

I can also tell you the story of a family of six living in a home where the rent was £660 a month. LHA covered £460 a month and they couldn’t make up the difference, so they ended up getting evicted. Before this, they had no heating for nearly 12 months – when you fall behind on rent, it’s difficult to exercise your rights with the landlord. This is the dilemma that people on LHA can find themselves in; it’s not fair and it needs to change.

Time to take action

Unfreezing LHA would be a huge relief to the 1.2m private tenants who rely on LHA to help cover their rent and help stop them joining the growing numbers of people made homeless.

We need to get MPs and the Treasury talking about LHA, and the only way to do that is make as much noise about it as possible before the 22 November. Thank you for your support – we can’t do this without you.