Posts Tagged ‘homeless’

Homeless sleeping on the streets of Athens

October 17, 2015
homeless sleeping on the streets of Athens

homeless sleeping on the streets of Athens

An indication of how bad the situation in Greece, in Athens homeless not only in shop doorways, but sleeping in the middle of the street.

One man, Syntagma, at the entrance to Ermou.

Ermou is like Oxford Street, the same shops.

People with their expensive trendy purchases in their carrier bags, walking by a homeless man sleeping in the middle of the street, a cup in his outstreched hand for donations.

All around Syntagma, in front of Parliament, stray dogs sleeping on the street.

A sense of despair, the jackboots of the Fourth Reich stamping on the face of every Greek citizen, part-time work, temporary contracts for various ministries, the best that can be had for highly educated people

Shame on Santa Barbara

January 23, 2011
homeless in Santa Barbara

homeless in Santa Barbara

They’ll be sitting with their backs to half the people coming and going on the sidewalk. They’ll have half the potential contacts with the public. It might not be financially beneficial for them. — Marck Aguilar, Santa Barbara redevelopment agency

Santa Barbara in California has a sizeable homeless population. How then do they help them? Follow the example of the Church Urban Fund in the UK, provide seed money to help homeless and others less fortunate than ourselves to improve their self-esteem, empower them. Err, no. $50,000 is to be spent on reorientating park benches in the streets so those who sit there have less opportunity for eye contact with passers by and remove the backs of many of the benches so they are less comfortable to sit on.

This mean-spirited proposal has come out of the Santa Barbara businesses community. This is their Big Idea of how to deal with a homelessness problem, a problem that is to them, not to the people who lack a roof over their head.

Those opposed are not opposed on the grounds that this does nothing to help people who are homeless but because it may ‘flush’ them elsewhere!

Four homeless have already died on the streets of Santa Barbara this year, 32 died on the streets last year.

It does not do to have people on the streets, offending those who wish to go shopping.

The land on which Santa Barbara Zoo lies was donated by a wealthy heiress who when her husband died and having no children, converted her mansion into a home for the homeless during the Great Depression. Homeless people converged on her mansion because they heard that they would be fed and housed. She wanted Santa Barbara to carry on her tradition of helping the homeless. Her name has been wiped from the zoo and from the history of Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara should be renamed Santa Barbaric. The people of Santa Barbaric should hang their heads in shame.

Santa Barbara seeks to turn the tables on the homeless
Tackling poverty together
Homeless at Christmas

Homeless at Christmas

December 5, 2010
St Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martin-in-the-Fields

It’s very easy to fall into the gutter, very difficult to climb out. — BBC Radio 4 Christmas Appeal

It cannot be good to be homeless at any time of the year but what can be worse than being homeless at Christmas, being forced to live on the streets in subzero temperatures?

I have often heard said that we are all but two pay cheques away from being homeless.

I have found people sleeping in sheds and shelters on allotments, in doorways, in cars, on a mat in a car park. There are others who I have helped, or at least tried to help (a few cases below), who were within a hair’s breadth of being homeless.

What I have found is these are not the easiest people to deal with. They are dysfunctional, they lack the normal social graces, they usually have mental health problems, often drug addicted. In other words they are not who you would wish to invite home to tea.

What I have also found is the failure of the agencies who are charged with helping them, the failure of the staff who are paid a salary to help them. They lack champions, are unable to argue their case, and slip through the cracks of society. No one wants to help, no one will put themselves out to help them.

It is what our so-called caring society calls Care in the Community. I call it Dump in the Community. It can only get worse with the £7 billion cuts the ConDem government has announced to the welfare budget.

Some may know St Martin-in-the-Fields as a church that is often a venue for concerts. Others as a lovely church off Trafalgar Square. Those who walk by in the evening when the church is closed may have wondered at the homeless people they see hanging around. The church runs a shelter for the homeless. Each year in conjunction with BBC Radio 4 they launch a Christmas Appeal to help the homeless.


Chris has been evicted so often he probably knows the court procedure better than most lawyers, and certainly better than most landlords.

For an eviction the landlord has to serve a Notice to Quit. A letter terminating the tenancy or simply asking the tenant to leave has no legal standing. The tenant does not have to leave and if the landlord tries to force them out it is criminal harassment. The landlord has to go to Court to obtain a Possession Order. This the tenant may challenge, maybe even successfully, but will be able to obtain a stay of execution if nowhere to live. But even with a Possession Order the landlord still cannot evict. The landlord then has to apply to the Court with his Possession Order to ask the Court to appoint bailiffs to carry out the actual physical eviction, ie throwing of the tenant out onto the streets. Those employed as bailiffs are too often thugs.

Chris knows all this and so what may be a 6-month tenancy will be dragged out for 12-18 months if not longer.

Chris has serious mental problems. Mental health problems he has finally admitted to and that he need help. He is not receiving any help. The last time he was evicted he needed to either be in some form of supported accommodation or if in the private sector with a support package in place. He received neither, so it was no surprise, six months into his new tenancy he stopped me one day in the street to tell me he was being evicted.

A couple of weeks ago I found him sat outside a Christian bookshop cum tea shop homeless. The bailiffs had evicted him that morning. Go to the local council, I advised, they have to house you, they are under a statutory obligation to house you if you are homeless. Been there, done that he told me. Then why are you here I asked him, stay there, refuse to move until they house you. Been there done that he said. When he refused to move, they called security who in turn called the police who removed him from the building.

I spoke with a local councillor. I asked that he called his housing department, did not ask, but told them they had to house Chris. A taxi was despatched and he was taken somewhere for the night. What has happened to him since I do not know. I made the point that his immediate housing needs had to be dealt with, he then had to be put in either supported housing or a support package put in place if housed in the private sector.

The housing department were making use of a loophole in refusing to house Chris. Yes they are under a statutory obligation to house the homeless, but not if they make themselves intentionally homeless. Chris did not one day say to himself he would love to be evicted, out on the streets, homeless. He has mental problems.


Emma has serious mental and behavioural problems, she is on drugs (though now claims to be clean), a serious drink problem, serious mental problems.

Unlike Chris, she is at least in supported housing, though for how long is a moot point as she is facing eviction for failing to comply with their arbitary ‘rules’ (and she apparently is not the only one). She is dysfunctional, that is why she is there, that is why she is in supported accommodation, but they are kicking her out as she fails to obey the rules. One of which is her failure to attend meetings. Were she a model tenant, she would not be there.

It is a moot point whether she is being legally evicted as from what she has told me (I have yet to see the paperwork) they have not followed correct legal procedures for her eviction.

But putting aside the legal niceties of her eviction, she should not be being evicted. The very people who are supposed to be helping her, supporting her, have failed in their obligations to her. They have failed to help and support her.

Emma went to her local council for help. They have refused to house her on the grounds that she is not homeless as she is being evicted. How do you become homeless, by being evicted!

Emma has a drink problem. She needs counselling. Counselling has been refused because she has a drink problem!

Emma wants to go into rehab. But if she goes into rehab she loses her accommodation as she is not living there and would come out of rehab homeless.

Not surprising, Emma’s drinking has got worse. She is now suicidal and there is a strong possibility that she will not end up on the street as she will have killed herself first. No doubt if this tragedy occurs there will be an inquiry (or more likely a cover up masquerading as an inquiry) and those responsible for her death will wring their hands and shed a few crocodile tears, then it will be businesses and usual and nothing will have changed.


Paul has a serious drink problem, which makes worse underlying mental problems. He was facing eviction. His landlord a nasty local thug came round and physically threatened him and tried to physically throw him out.

I was a witness to this. The thug landlord then turned on me. I ordered the thug landlord out and I was quite within my rights to use minimum force to both defend myself and to physically eject the landlord.

The police were called but did nothing. No charges were brought against the landlord.

The local council were kept fully informed but did nothing to help. They could have charged the landlord with criminal harassment but failed to do so. They did though advise the landlord how to evict the tenant legally!

Paul luckily found sheltered accommodation and left where he was living as the stress he was under with the landlord constantly going round threatening him was making his drinking worse.

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