Local Democracy Weekly: Homelessness – a complex issue but “magnetic?” Maybe not

Homelessness can affect anyone at any time with just one small action having massive repercussions. Many charitable people can, and in fact do, help those affected, buying coffees, donating cash or even going so far as to let their friends “sofa-surf”. But how much help is too much when dealing with those having a tough time?

The City of Lincoln Council has a number of measures in place to tackle the growing issue, and has in the past year or so been given a huge cash injection to help.

It has teams of people to guide those in danger of being forced onto the streets, or to help them back into homes. In some cases it can even offer plane or train tickets to help people get back home.

However, this week, councillors — as well as raising concerns over families and the hidden homeless such as mental health sufferers or domestic abuse victims sofa-surfing — questioned what happens if schemes are too successful.

Is it possible to be so helpful it hinders? Stringent rules are applied to homelessness now, especially following recent government acts which apply strict criteria to who can and cannot apply for homes.

The rules have changed: now you need to come under certain priorities or have a local connection, otherwise you need to go back to where those criteria are fulfilled.

And what if they don’t want help? This week we also heard some foreign nationals are reported to be willingly homeless in order to be in the area if a job becomes available, or because they don’t want to return to somewhere there is “nothing for them”.

Homelessness is a complex issue, and it’s worth bearing in mind each person has a history, something which drives them. And somewhere in there, there might be something to help them. — DANIEL JAINES