Five million young people feel anxious and depressed about the state of their housing, new stats from Shelter and YouGov reveal.
The findings, released as part of a campaign for Shelter’s free helpline, shows that 18 to 34-year-olds have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic when it comes to housing. Forty percent of the age group feel depressed and anxious about housing worries – double the rate found among those aged over 35.
The stats also show how fears of homelessness have increased. According to the stats, one in five young people in the 18 to 34 group are more worried about becoming homeless as a result of the pandemic. Overall, Shelter’s finding show that coronavirus has left six million people living in fear of homelessness.
Insecurities around housing have increased as incomes are affected by the pandemic, particularly for young people. According to Shelter, one in five young people have seen their incomes decrease compared to six months ago. In the last month, 21 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds have had to borrow money to pay their rent or mortgage.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Through our helpline, we have seen just how scared people are about their homes and their futures. People’s lives are literally on the line. They are desperately struggling, and the threat of homelessness is very real.”
Over the last year, young people have faced disproportionate challenges to their living situation as a result of mass job losses caused by the pandemic. According to the Office for National Statistics, under-25s have been hardest hit, with almost three-fifths of the UK’s unemployed being aged under 25. This is partly due to young people being more likely to work in industries badly affected by the pandemic, like retail, hospitality and the arts.
Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director of Generation Rent, told VICE World News: “The pandemic’s impact on incomes has caused the number of private renters relying on Universal Credit to pay their rent to soar. But support is so stingy more than half don’t get enough to cover their costs.”
“Rent arrears are building up and, without government action on this, thousands of renters will lose their homes once the economy opens back up and eviction restrictions are lifted,” he continued. “We’re even hearing from renters who have made huge sacrifices to pay off arrears but are still facing eviction because landlords don’t need a reason to serve notice. The government must set up a COVID Rent Debt Fund to clear arrears, and begin their reforms to end unfair evictions.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We’ve put people at the heart of our decision-making throughout the pandemic, with an unprecedented £352 billion package keeping millions in work and temporarily bolstering the welfare safety net for those most in need.”
“Robust protections remain - with longer notice periods of six months and the banning of bailiff enforcement of evictions for all but the most serious cases until 31 May - councils can also provide support through the £180 million Discretionary Housing Scheme.”