20th January 2016
Nearly one in three people living with a partner – the equivalent of 4.9 million people – fear that if their relationship broke down they would be left homeless.
Relationship breakdown is responsible for one in every six cases of homelessness in England, according to the latest government figures, making it the third most common cause of homelessness in the country.
A survey by housing charity Shelter reveals that more than one in four people are worried they will fall behind with their rent or mortgage at some point in 2016.
Shelter is urging anyone struggling to keep up with their housing costs, or going through a break-up and worried about losing their home, to get expert help as early as possible.
Shelter’s helpline adviser, Nadeem Khan, says: “A break-up can happen for any number of reasons, but it’s always an incredibly stressful and upsetting time, without the added fear of becoming homeless as well.
“Speaking to Shelter’s expert advisers early can make a world of difference when it comes to finding or keeping a home. Every day we help people who are coming to terms with a relationship breakdown, find somewhere new to live or figure out how they can afford their home alone.”
Felicia lived with her husband and two children. One day her husband vanished without warning, leaving over five months of unpaid rent. As a result, Felicia and her two children became homeless. They were forced to leave their family home and the council moved them into an emergency B&B.
She says: “Until he disappeared, my husband was in charge of the bills – I believed our finances were sound. After he disappeared I was shocked to find we owed thousands in rent. Our world collapsed; I had no way to pay and before I knew it we were made homeless.
“The council moved us into an emergency B&B and it all became too much for the children, three of us sharing a room with no privacy. They stopped going to school, talking to their friends, or finding joy in anything.
“I discovered Shelter online and called the helpline straight away. For the first time since our nightmare began, I felt hopeful, cared about and protected. Shelter’s advice and legal support helped my family back onto our feet and into a stable home. It scares me to think of where we’d be without them.”