What is homelessness? It can be hard to get past the stereotypes associated with homelessness. Homelessness, in law, includes people who are in temporary and unstable accommodation, as well as people sleeping on a friend’s sofa, known as sofa surfers, and those who are literally on the street, who might be known as rough sleepers or 'street homeless'. Every year, hundreds of people become homeless in Wycombe and the surrounding areas. Homelessness is much more likely to happen to people already experiencing poverty, as they have no reserves to fall back. But causes of homelessness are wide ranging. It can include young people being asked to leave by their parents, loss of a job, getting into rent arrears, a private tenancy being ended and people being evicted from their home to name a few. And this is happening while there is a severe shortage of affordable housing and an increasingly unforgiving welfare system. Homelessness is catastrophic to whoever it happens to. Some people are entitled to temporary accommodation from the local council. But the law is quite specific, very complex and is hard to navigate. Councils only have a full duty to provide accommodation for those classed as ‘in priority need’ – for example the young, old, ill, pregnant, vulnerable or adults with dependent children. And they’ll only be housed if they meet other criteria as well. Wycombe Homeless Connection collaborates with local authorities to assist them in their work towards homelessness strategies and advocates on behalf of our clients to ensure they get all the help they are entitled to. We also have services in place to ensure those who are not entitled to the full housing duty from their local authority receive help directly from us. Here are some stories from people we have helped.