Racism leaves young people homeless

A new report says hostels are failing homeless young black and
Asian people reports Cathy Cooper.

Homeless hostels are failing young black people. This is one of
the findings of the first national survey examining homelessness
among young people from ethnic minorities.

Researchers from the housing rights campaign group CHAR, the
Federation of Black Housing Organisations and Leeds University
interviewed 126 young homeless people from a variety of ethnic

They found that young white homeless people were most likely to
turn to statutory and voluntary agencies for support. Black people
were less likely to do so and Asians least likely of all.

Despite the over-representation of ethnic minorities among the
young homeless many of this group said they were put off using
hostels because of the abuse they experienced there.

One young black man said: ‘Out of 200 people, there were only
two black people, and there was pure racism in there. Some people
even wanted to kill me, but I survived.’

Director of the Federation of Black Housing Organisations Louis
Julienne said: ‘People have been intimidated, felt left out,

The survey found an ‘overwhelming’ number of young people from
ethnic minorities wanted more black-led hostel accommodation as a
step to rented accommodation. But, say the federation and CHAR,
there are only 125 black-led projects in the country.

Tony Brown, housing director at the London Borough of Waltham
Forest, said councils should give funding to, and help in
developing, black housing associations.

He said young black people’s need for accommodation is often
more acute than that of young whites. He said young blacks sleeping
rough face a greater risk of suffering physical abuse than

This helps explain the survey finding that most young white
people had slept rough, young blacks and Asians were more likely to
have stayed with friends or relatives.

But, said Brown, supporting black-run schemes is going to get
harder for councils thanks to government changes to reduce housing
benefit for under 25s.

‘In the modern climate of competition, all housing associations
have to be treated on the basis of performance. The fact that black
associations are not starting on a level playing field is not taken
into account. They do not have a large enough asset base in terms
of owned properties to use as security to raise money on the money

Julienne said the government offers little support to black-run
projects. And none of the £6.9 million paid out in grants by
the government this year to 160 single homeless initiatives is
going to a black-led scheme.

Many schemes, instead of being centrally supported, are often
struggling to survive on grants from local authorities, charity
donations and their own fundraising efforts, he said.YOUTH

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