Homelessness organisations squeezed by recession

Homelessness organisations are being squeezed by higher demand and reduced income as a result of the economic downturn and the situation is getting worse, Homeless Link has found.

A survey by the umbrella group found that in the year to June 2009 64% of organisations saw an increase in need, more than double the proportion reporting increased demand in a similar survey in November 2008.

Respondents saw debt, unemployment and repossessions as the key determinants of demand.

The survey also found that nearly three-quarters of respondents – 71% – felt the economic downturn had affected their income from savings and investments, a threefold increase on the November survey.

More than half (52%) said donation levels had been affected, up from 34%, while 36% had seen an impact on statutory funding, up from 22% in the November survey.

Overall, 51% of organisations thought the recession had had a significant impact on their project, an increase from 34% in the original survey.

While the sample size of 65 was too small to draw firm conclusions, the report said it provided an indication of the issues faced in the homelessness sector.

The proportion of agencies taking action as a result of the downturn had more than doubled to 62% from November to June. There is some evidence of organisations reviewing services and staff cutbacks, with 30% saying their staff costs had been affected in the latest survey.

More than 70% said they believed the recession would affect donations, income from investments, statutory funding or charitable grants in the subsequent 12 months.

The report concluded: “Together these results suggest that action must continue to be taken at least to maintain levels of service provision during the downturn. Increased demand on services will need to be monitored.”

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