Lancaster artist forced into homelessness after council tells him he 'does not meet the legal threshold' to qualify for emergency housing

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A homeless man who has been forced to wild camp in the depths of winter has drawn attention to the lack of basic emergency shelter in Lancaster and Morecambe.

The 38-year-old man, who wishes to be known as Jordan, has lived in the Lancaster area for six years but became homeless after his landlord decided to sell the Bolton-le-Sands home he was renting.

He applied to Lancaster City Council for social housing months ago but while he waits, he claims he’s been told that he’s not owed a duty of care as he’s not as vulnerable as other people on the list and will be unlikely to get a council house.

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“I paid my rent every month for the three years that I lived in Bolton-le-Sands, have no criminal record or social problems, and simply get on with my life as an artist/photographer.

Jordan takes shelter in an isolated hut in the Lake District.Jordan takes shelter in an isolated hut in the Lake District.
Jordan takes shelter in an isolated hut in the Lake District.

"There are clearly some fundamental issues here since shelter is one of our basic human needs. I've tried reaching out to every care team and charity under the sun but got nowhere.”

Without family or friends to offer help, this winter he’s moved between Lancaster, Morecambe and the Lake District, sleeping rough or wild camping in freezing temperatures.

“I’ve slept in church porches, on benches, at the Ashton Memorial and other sheltered spots. I feel it’s safer in the Lake District but my one-man tent got damaged from the storm when I travelled up to Keswick.”

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During the winter, as well as wild camping, he’s even trekked to isolated huts for shelter.

Camping out has become the norm for Jordan.Camping out has become the norm for Jordan.
Camping out has become the norm for Jordan.

The council did provide three nights’ temporary accommodation at a Morecambe hotel but his search for a private rented one-bed flat is proving difficult.

“Someone has told me that properties are being bought up in Morecambe in particular by people in the south, with the intention of turning them all into Air B&Bs because of the proposed Eden Project scheme,” Jordan said.

"I don’t know whether there’s any truth in this but very few one-bed flats are coming up in the area these days, and any available in the Lancaster district are far too overpriced and unavailable for someone rough sleeping.”

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As he’s homeless, Jordan has been unable to apply for jobs and is currently living off Universal Credit of £360 a month which is mostly spent on food.

“It’s very stressful and a demoralising situation to be in but I’m not going to be defeated by it.”

A Lancaster City Council spokesperson said: "Cases of homelessness can often be complex and it is important that an individual's circumstances are thoroughly considered to determine whether they meet the Government's definition of being in priority need of accommodation.

"In this case, although Jordan does not meet the legal threshold and therefore does not qualify for emergency housing, council officers have provided him with a package of support to help find accommodation in either the private and social rented housing sector, and will continue to offer assistance if he wishes us to do so."

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People who have an automatic right to priority accommodation include pregnant women, those with dependent children, people vulnerable due to old age, mental illness or physical disability; those who are homeless as a result of an emergency such as flood, fire or other disaster; or because they are a domestic abuse victim.