At this time of year, particularly with the current weather, many peoples’ thoughts turn to the homeless. You wouldn’t think it a major problem on the streets of areas like Windsor, but some homeless people are drawn to affluent areas and people can be less than sympathetic to their plight.
There will always be people who are not willing or be able to be in the hostels provided whether it is pet ownership or alcohol and drug abuse issues. Mental health problems can also play a part in self exclusion from help. Their lifeline in this borough is the churches that provide a rota of night shelters.
But this is just the visible sign of homelessness in the South East.
Many families with older children still at home well into their twenties realise how difficult it is for children to leave home with high housing costs. Imagine if that youngster didn’t have the family network that many take for granted. Family breakdown and young adults leaving the care system leave us with youngsters who don’t have these advantages. They become reliant on ‘sofa surfing’ and local authority B&B and hostel places.
Yes, these youngsters are off the streets, but will this ever address their long term needs?
For those still at home, low housing stock is an obvious contributor to this continuing problem and in areas where land is at a premium, new affordable housing will always be a major challenge. Legislation has tried to address this by forcing developers to provide social housing within new developments. But there is still a shortfall. Even with the Fair Rent act, private landlords are still able to charge rents which are too high for a young person at the beginning of their working life to afford.
So what are options for those without family support?