Yesterday was World Homeless Day. Councillor Paul Smith, Cabinet lead for Housing, attended a service of remembrance at Bristol Cathedral to remember members of the community who have died while homeless on the streets of Bristol.
Two people a day are dying on the streets of Britain.
They are not dying of old age – the average age of the people dying is under 50.
They are dying of neglect.
They are dying of disrespect.
They are dying of austerity.
They are dying so the Government can balance its budget.
They are dying in the national interest.
Some of them are dying on the streets of Bristol.
They are the people you try to avoid eye contact with.
The people who you walk around.
Sometimes you might give them money.
Money which may end up in the hands of the drug dealer who is providing them with the source of their final destruction.
We are the fifth largest economy in the world and still people are dying on our streets.
Whatever we are doing as a society it’s not enough.
Not all the homeless are on the streets.
Caring in Bristol says its only 3%.
In Bristol over 1,400 people are living in hostels and supported housing.
In Bristol over 200 people are living in vehicles
In Bristol we have no idea how many people are sofa surfing.
In Bristol 500 families, many with children are living in temporary accommodation.
It may be nowhere near the childrens’ schools.
It may be nowhere near families and friends.
Landlords and families are still evicting families who have nowhere to live.
“The council will have to house you”
Over 20,000 Bristol council homes were sold under the right to buy.
Many are now owned by private landlords, charging private rents.
Homelessness is not a crime.
Homelessness is a disgrace.
Homelessness shames our society.
Homelessness is killing two people per day.
Homelessness is not a crime – but homelessness can be a death sentence.