BLEAK OUTLOOK FOR JERSEY HOMELESSNESS

The outlook for tackling homelessness in Jersey remains bleak with the latest data showing the situation is no better than a year ago.

The latest quarterly flash report for Q4 2023 produced for the Jersey Homelessness Strategic Board and collated from data provided by five homeless and youth accommodation providers reveals a bleak picture for homelessness in the Island.

In 2023, 406 people sought shelter from one of Jersey’s five homeless charities. At the beginning of the year 2023 there were 160 residents with a further 206 people accommodated during the year. A further 38 people were turned away, in most because the hostel was full at the time.

The second quarter of 2023 saw the highest need, 226 people accommodated and 14 turned away, mostly due to hostels being full.

During 2023 the number of male residents dropped from 152 in the first quarter to 134 in the fourth quarter, representing an average of 69% of all residents. Over the same period this compares with an increase in the number of female residents from 59 to 66, representing an average of 30% of the total.

The majority of homeless residents, 90%, were of working age and 79% held Entitled residential and employment status. Of the homeless residents in 2023, 68%, were British from UK or Jersey (51% being born in Jersey and 17% UK born), 18% Portuguese born and 4% Polish born.

The three most common reasons for residents needing hostel accommodation were domestic violence, relationship breakdown or being in unsafe or insecure housing. Eviction followed closely behind.

The quarterly flash report records only 3 categories of homelessness. There are a further ten categories making up the Government’s definition of homelessness presented to the States Assembly in October 2022. In October 2022 the then Minister’s team undertook to collate homelessness data against this definition, which has not happened.

In March 2023, the former Minister for Housing and Communities announced that the first set of homelessness statistics to be published by the Government since the new definition was introduced would be released that month, but this has yet to happen.

“Defining homelessness and then evidencing its scale and nature were the first two recommendations of the Board’s 2020 Homelessness Strategy”, said Simon Burgess, independent Chair of the Jersey Homelessness Strategic Board.

“Without collating this information on an ongoing basis, the Government will only be second-guessing as to the steps needed to tackle the issues and this will prevent the homelessness strategy being implemented in full”, he added.

Responding to a question in the States Assembly in January 2024, the newly appointed Minister for Housing and Communities, Deputy Mézec, stated he was absolutely committed to implementing all of the recommendations of the homelessness strategy. He particularly referred to enshrining the definition of homelessness in legislation.

“Committing to implementing the homelessness strategy is very welcome news”, said Patrick Lynch, CEO of Caritas Jersey and member of the Homelessness Strategic Board. “The strategy was published after an in-depth review of the complex challenges that Jersey faces and full Government implementation is urgently needed”, he added.

The quarterly flash reports and the Homelessness Strategy are available at www.homelessness.je.

 

Summary of Government of Jersey’s Definition of Homelessness

Rooflessness

(1) people without a shelter of any kind, sleeping rough.

(2) in emergency accommodation.

Houselessness

(3) people in short term or temporary accommodation.

(4) women’s shelters.

(5) accommodation for migrant workers.

(6) people due to be released from institutions where no accommodation is available.

(7) people receiving support due to long term homelessness.

Living in insecure housing

(8) people living temporarily with friends or family.

(9) under the threat of eviction.

(10) under the threat of violence.

Living in inadequate housing

(11) people living in unconventional structures (eg. caravans or illegal campsites).

(12) living in unfit housing.

(13) living in extreme overcrowding.

For further information:-

Please contact: Simon Burgess on 07797 923681 or simon.burgess@homelessness.je