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It\'s harder for homeless couples

September 25 2009
Homeless people in a relationship spend longer on the streets than singles Couples on the street are less likely to be offered accommodation together due to the poor provision of appropriate housing, according to an investigation prompted by a reader's letter. Those homeless with a partner on the streets are often unable to live together in hostels because most hostels are able to provide accommodation for single homeless only. As a result, many couples prefer to remain on the streets rather than separate, and end up spending longer on the streets than their single counterparts. This story was raised by a reader who wrote to The Pavement (issue 13). The reader, who has had experience of living on the streets with a partner and asked if the homeless are "allowed to be human and find stability in a relationship." According to the Resource Information Service, there are 26 accommodation centres that can accept couples across the capital, but they provide a very limited number of rooms. A few organizations, such as St Mungo's and Thames Reach Bondway, have a positive attitude towards residents forming relationships and are taking steps to address some of the complications working with couples. But, as our reader told us, the negative attitude the majority of organizations have towards taking couples in can be related to a problem of income: the housing benefit claims are very low for couples, as much as two-thirds less for a joint claim. Hence, it is not profitable for any organisation to take in couples. For heterosexual couples, the situation seems exacerbated by exclusionary rules of many homeless services, which ban the opposite sex from parts of their buildings, particularly at night. Our reader met his partner on the streets, and they had to face a lot of refusals from hostels and B&Bs, which didn't allow them in together. Eventually they got their place, but it took a long time and put a strain on their relationship.