David Ash

What is homelessness?
It's easy to think that homelessness is limited to those who are rough sleeping on the streets of towns and cities across the nation. However this is just one facet of the situation with many who live on the streets, in open spaces and cars. It also includes those who are living in temporary emergency accommodation, in women's shelters, in camps or other temporary accommodation.

It's often not a visible problem, Crisis has estimated that as many as 62% of single homeless people do not show up on any government figures.

Rising rents, increases living costs, stretched local authorities and the suspension of measures put in place during the pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in people finding themselves without safe and permanent housing.

The failure of private tenancy agreements is the leading cause of homelessness, with 19,940 households made homeless from the private rented sector. This represents a massive 39% increase since 2022 and accounts for around 30% of the overall figure.

How do people become homeless?
There are many and varied reasons why people find themselves homeless they can include:
- poverty
- addiction
- mental health
- family breakdown
- redundancy / unemployment
- unaffordable housing

Social issues including poverty, unemployment and a lack of affordable housing are often causes of homelessness. The loss of a loved one or the breakdown of a long-term relationship may also result in people finding themselves homeless.

Other causes would be aging out of the foster care system, leaving the army and being released from prison can all leave people in precarious living situations.

Domestic violence is also a key cause of women becoming homeless and many simply find that they can no longer afford their rent.

Sadly being homeless often exacerbates underlying health conditions, addictive behaviours and mental health crisis'.

A Biblical Response
You'll find that the Bible has a lot to say about caring for those in poverty or facing injustice. There are more than 2,000 scriptures which speak into these very subjects.

We believe that the church should be at the forefront of change for those who are facing issues of poverty and injustice, by showing compassion and offering support to people.

How can you help? How can you remember the poor?
1. Volunteer - with Homeless shelters and organisations which help the homeless
2. Donate - money or items to charities and ministries that are making a difference
3. Advocate - for policy change at a local and national level
4. If you can't do any of these things, you can pray!

You may find that praying for people in this situation is difficult, so how can you pray? Pete Grieg suggested the following acronym to help us pray: PRAY - Pause, Rejoice, Ask, Yield.

1. Pause - breathe deeply and be still in God's presence. Become aware of His presence with you. Think about God's heart for those who are in need. Reflect in silence.
2. Rejoice - read Psalm 145:8-16 and rejoice in who God is, and the way his character is displayed through the themes of this passage - His heart of compassion
3. Ask - pray for those who are facing homelessness, the government (local & national), benefit officers, prison & probation services, Fostering & Adoption Services, homeless ministries / those who serve the poor
4. Yield - say yes to God - welcome His love, His plans and His presence into your day. Think about how you might be able to respond in God's way to the need amongst the poor and the marginalised in your city or in the local area. Ask God to speak to you about how you can say 'yes' to his leading in this area.

Some Stats
Rough Sleeping