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Preventable hostel evictions still taking place

April 02 2010
Staff training is an important factor, says Homeless Link

 Hostels across London are still making evictions "that could be prevented" despite some rise in standards, according to a new report commissioned by the charity Homeless Link.

A total of 14 hostels and two day centres in the capital were examined for the study, using data commissioned by homeless database Chain. It found that despite falling levels of abandonment from hostels, clients were twice as likely to be evicted for their behaviour as for rent arrears. The Chain investigation suggested that "there has been an increase in substance misuse needs and resulting chaotic behaviour over this time, which may have impacted on eviction rates".

Lisa Reed, Homeless Link's head of innovation and good practice, told The Pavement that though the report had identified rent arrears, addiction and abandonment as the main causes for evictions, "staff training is an important factor".

She said: "It can be a case of whether staff or managers saw it as their job to help people."

The report found that "clients wanted staff who visibly respected and cared about them and had the skills to offer the level of support they needed. At a number of hostels, clients were dissatisfied with staff."

Ms Reed was unable to reveal which hostels were the best and worst performers, but was keen to stress that the report uncovered a great deal of good practice alongside the negative results.

"We didn't speak to 14 hostels and find 14 terrible staff performers," she said. "We found some excellent staff and some hostels that are brilliant performers. I want to emphasise that there is a lot of good news in our findings."

The report made a number of recommendations to improve practice in London hostels, including making the reduction of evictions "for arrears or behaviour and abandonment a priority across their staff teams." The researchers also encouraged hostels to "performance manage staff", and "ensure expectations around [service users'] behaviour are realistic".

Homeless Link argued it would be possible to cut hostel evictions completely through dedication and a combined effort from staff, managers and clients themselves.