A group that advocates for homeless youth is London is telling its clients to “hit the road,” because it sees no other alternative.
Due to rising housing costs and a lack of emergency shelters, advocates are strapped and don’t have the resources to provide young people with a place to stay, New Horizon Youth Center wrote in a blog post. As a result, the overwhelmed organization that helps young people in crisis in London, is handing out bus tickets to young people who would otherwise resort to sleeping on the streets.
"They are safer riding buses than on the streets," Shelagh O’Connor, director of the New Horizon Youth Center, told the Guardian. "It is a dire situation. It has never been as bad as this; I am extremely worried. It is so difficult at the moment and I can’t see any new strategies being put in place that might improve the situation."
The group advises them about the rest routes to take, provides sleeping bags and welcomes their clients back the next morning for a meal and to wash up, O’Connor added.
The group started handing out bus tickets to clients in need over a year ago, a measure that costs 300 British pounds a month (about $450), according to the Evening Standard.
New Horizon Youth Center services more than 2,000 homeless youth a year, many of whom are escaping abusive situations, according to the organization’s website.
In recent years, the number of homeless young people has soared. Last year, 52 percent of people in need of homeless services in England were 25 or younger, according to Homeless Link.
London was recently ranked the fifth most expensive city in the world to live, where the average furnished two-room apartment rents for 1,828 British pounds (about $2,775) a month, the International Business Times reported.
A number of organizations that support homeless youth are seeking to develop affordable housing solutions.
The YMCA London South West, for example, recently unveiled its a 36-unit development that offers young people struggling with housing an alternative to the standard costly options. Half of the tenants moving into Y:Cube were previously homeless.
The Y:Cube residences are built offsite and are easily stacked when they’re brought to the location, which helps cut costs. Tenants pay 148 British pounds a week (about $225).
“Living independently in the Y:Cube will change my life completely,” Wendy, a formerly homeless woman, said in a statement. “I will get my independence back."