When you see a homeless person with a dog, your first thought probably isn’t that their furry friend would be one of the biggest hurdles to that person getting back on their feet.
It’s a bittersweet truth that whilst dogs can provide non-judgemental love and protection – they are also a reason for landlords to reject a potential tenant.
According to the Dogs Trust Charity, over 45% of pet owning tenants have trouble finding a suitable rental home as ‘few landlords embrace the idea of a pet in their property.’ It comes to reason therefore, that men with dogs are amongst the least likely people to get help when it comes to finding permanent accommodation.
St Anne’s men’s hostel in Birmingham is trying to change this. As one of only two West Midlands hostels that accommodate men with dogs, they provide a rare place where canine companions are welcomed and cared for.
Amanda Trappett the Hostel Director of Service told us “It’s rare for someone to get a dog whilst living on the street. It’s more likely that homeless people owned a dog before they lost their accommodation." The thought of losing this valued companion is too much for most people, homeless or not, and most would rather stay on the streets than be separated from their dog.
As well as the bond between them and their owner, dogs are great for mental health. Mentalhealth.org agrees, stating ‘The companionship that a pet offers is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress.’
However, residents with dogs are more difficult to resettle, which can cause ‘bed blocking’. The average stay for a homeless man with a dog at the hostel can be up to three years compared to 6-12 months for a homeless man without a pet. This limits the offer of shelter and support the hostel can provide to other homeless men in the city and results in them having to turn people away.
The DPS Fund has therefore provided a £9,750 donation, to enable St Anne’s to provide an upfront deposit for those with pets, something which the men are unlikely to be able to raise themselves.
They’re also hoping to be able to build a register of landlords who are willing to take a chance on a homeless person with a pet. This can then be shared with other hostels to help even more vulnerable people find a home.
If you work for or know of any more fantastic charities focused on the housing sector that would benefit from funding, please don’t hesitate to apply for funding.
Applications for the next round of awards must be submitted by 31 March 2020.