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Around 200 islanders currently believed to be homeless

Around 200 islanders currently believed to be homeless

Thursday 04 February 2021

Around 200 islanders currently believed to be homeless


There are currently close to 200 islanders believed to be homeless in the island, according to figures released by the Housing Minister.

Deputy Jeremy Maçon said at least 56 islanders are currently deemed to be 'homeless' on the Housing Gateway, meaning they are either under an eviction order or living in temporary accommodation such as a hotel or “sofa-surfing”.

In addition, there were 115 people being looked after by the Shelter Trust across eight different sites and a further 19 they were supporting in different locations, including hotels and guest houses, and in the community in January.

It is not known how many people are rough-sleeping in the island. 

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Pictured: The number of people sleeping rough in the island is currently unknown.

“Efforts have been made over the years to address entrenched rough sleeping, although there continue to be sporadic cases of people sleeping rough,” Deputy Maçon said.

The revelation came as the Housing Minister answered a question from St. Helier Deputy Mike Higgins, a few weeks after the publication of the island's first homelessness strategy which recommended establishing a statutory definition of homelessness and collecting data on housing and homelessness needs. 

Deputy Maçon said there are currently 945 families in the island waiting for an affordable home. 

Meanwhile, Andium Homes is expected to deliver 138 homes within the next three months - 36 of which will be affordable ones available for purchase and 102 for rental.

No other homes will be delivered by either Les Vaux Housing or Brunel Management in that same period.

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Pictured: The Housing Minister, Deputy Jeremy Macon, said his officers never recommend “sofa-surfing” or living in a hotel to islanders facing homelessness. 

Deputy Maçon also denied that officers from his department ever recommended “sofa-surfing” or living in a hotel to islanders facing homelessness in response to Deputy Higgins' questions.

“Given the number of applicants registered on the waiting list, officers may ask a customer to consider all their available housing options, including staying with family or friends provided it is safe to do so; alternative private rented accommodation; and other temporary accommodation options,” he said. 

“This is always suggested as a short-term, temporary measure whilst the applicant looks for long-term accommodation, including being offered social housing." 

He then went on to say that sofa-surfing and the use of hotels were not considered to be “policy alternatives” to preventing evictions. 

“However, an officer may suggest these as an alternative to resolve emergency housing situations,” he said. 

“These would only ever be for a short-term measure. When cases involve children for instance recommendations to reside in a hotel or with a family member would be suggested over homelessness. The use of hotels puts a roof over people’s heads and supports their health, safety and welfare.”

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Pictured: No islanders were evicted between April and September but since then 16 evictions have been lodged with the court.

Deputy Higgins also enquired about the number of people who had been evicted during the pandemic. Deputy Maçon said no eviction had taken place between 10 April and 30 September as a result of the emergency covid-19 legislation introduced by the Government. 

Since 30 September, 16 evictions have been lodged with the court, the majority of which (14) were linked to the non-payment of rent and/or Anti-Social Behaviour.

Five of the cases were private tenancy agreement while the remaining  11 were through Social housing providers, who have confirmed none of the cases related to arrears accrued during the pandemic.

12 of these cases resulted in eviction, with the other four having been adjourned. 

Since March 2020, the Housing Gateway has received 60 applications from customers who have been given notice from their landlord, only a handful of those were court eviction notices, with the rest having been letters from landlords. 

Out of the 60 applications, 27 have been housed through the gateway.

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