+ What is hidden homelessness?
You don’t have to be sleeping on the streets to be homeless.
Even if you have a roof over your head you can still be homeless. Perhaps you are sofa surfing at a friends’ place, or staying somewhere temporarily like a hostel, night shelter or bed & breakfast. It might be that you are living in very poor conditions or somewhere that’s not suitable for you or your family.
If you don’t have a place to call home it is likely that you are experiencing ‘hidden homelessness’.
+ What are the signs of hidden homelessness?
Someone you know might be at risk of, or experiencing, hidden homelessness. Common triggers include :
- A recent relationship breakdown
- Family troubles
- Job loss
- Physical or mental health problems.
People who are hidden homeless might be moving every few days, for example, from one friend to another. They might be asking for help with money and using food banks.
Those experiencing hidden homelessness are more likely to be at risk of exploitation. For example, they might be targeted by people who want to pressurise them into sex or unwaged labour in exchange for a roof over their head.
Some people might commit crimes in the hope of being taken into custody.
+ Who is at risk?
There is a strong link between homelessness and poverty. People on low incomes are more likely to experience all forms of homelessness.
Young people leaving the care system, and people with mental health issues are more likely to experience hidden homelessness.
But we don’t know how many people are affected by hidden homelessness; there are no statistics. The very nature of hidden homelessness dictates that it is impossible to properly measure the scale of the problem.
+ What can you do if you think you might know someone who is homeless but don’t think they are?
Speak to them and tell them to get help from an adviser as soon as they can. An adviser might be able to help them find a way to get back into suitable accommodation and can put them in touch with the local council’s homelessness team. The council has to give help and advice to anyone experiencing hidden homelessness and might have to provide them with somewhere more suitable to stay whilst they decide what other help they can give.
+ How can you find help?
Shelter Cymru are here to help you. You can get in touch with us by:
- Calling our free housing advice helpline,
- emailing one of our advisers,
- making a face-to-face appointment,
- or speaking to our digital assistant Wyni who can help you find the advice you need.
You can also instantly message our advisers between 10am and 2pm, Monday to Friday by opening the chatbox in the bottom left corner of the screen.