4 of 8 An impossible situation

“Living in a hostel is no life. It doesn’t help with my depression. The atmosphere feels like a graveyard in there.”

Almost without exception, the move from the streets into a hostel, or from a hotel to a hostel was negative, many people felt it was safer to be on the streets. In hostels, people reported being surrounded by drugs and alcohol, constantly exposed to noise, and very little privacy.

People who spent time in a hotel during COVID often shared that it was an insight into normal life and what ‘normal people’ get to experience. In hotels, people felt they had a space to think and start looking to the future. In stark contrast, those who moved into hostels said they could only think of how to escape the noise and chaos which came from that form of accommodation. People spoke of the challenges of living alongside people who are all going through tough times.

“It becomes impossible to avoid people. Everyone in there has their own stuff going on. It’s crazy. It’s hard to move forward when you’re surrounded by chaos.”

 “The hotel room was small but I liked it there, it was quiet, I could get some peace.  They moved me to this hostel and I hate it, I want to move out.  There are many people living here, they are alcoholics and they smoke drugs. They are loud, they play their music loud and they fight a lot, I don’t know why I was put here, I can’t sleep at night because of all the noise.  I just want to get my own place, work and relax.”

“Everyone there takes drugs in there.  I’m trying to stay sober, but they are trying to force me to go. I’m going to end up back on the streets.  Those are my only options, on the streets people take drugs, but not everyone. I understand why they take drugs, it’s a way of escaping from your mind, but I can’t relapse.”

In some cases people feared being moved into private rental accommodation, losing another home and then ending up back on the streets – a cycle many people had repeated several times. They wanted COVID to be different, a fresh start and unfortunately, being moved into a hostel was the opposite.

“I lived in a house for 10 years, had a job. COVID changed that. I went back to them for help, they remembered like they weren’t surprised to see me again. The familiarity was disheartening. Nothing is going to change for me.”

Aside from being placed in hostels, several people shared that the emergency accommodation they were given was unsuitable and often dirty, damp and unsafe.   “Two mice ran across my feet, it was an unused building.”