Homeless teachers: ‘I wouldn’t talk about it, I was so ashamed’.

Three teachers reveal their terror at facing a hostel – or the streets – as the housing crisis hits professionals in The Guardian.

Secondary English teacher Tara Diamond discovered she was going to be made homeless a week before Christmas. Without warning, her landlord decided to sell the three-bed house in Bath she’d been renting for £1,000 a month for the past three years. Diamond, a single mother of a teenage daughter and son, quickly found that on her salary of £28,000, she could not afford to rent another home locally.

“My pay has been frozen while rents have rocketed in Bath. I was already spending all my spare time working as a tutor and marking exams just to pay for groceries and avoid getting into debt. Another three-bed place would have cost me £1,300 a month – 80% of my take home pay – leaving my children and me with just £320 a month to live on.” 

In school, she pretended she was fine. “My mantra was: it would not affect my teaching, but I was so worried I struggled to concentrate at work. My head of English knew something was wrong, but I wouldn’t talk about it face to face.” 

Latest research from the charity Shelter suggests as many as 41% of homeless households are, like Diamond, in work. In London, the figure is even higher, at 47%, and the charity believes this could be a conservative estimate.

It is not clear how many teachers are among the working homeless as Shelter does not collect this data. However, the Teachers’ Housing Association says it recently completed a project in Croydon where 75% of the teachers housed were either homeless or struggling to pay their rents, and it has noticed a surge in applications from teachers living in unsuitable accommodation. Meanwhile, the ESP has offered several emergency grants to teachers in recent months to prevent them ending up on the streets.

Carl Hanser, caseworker for the ESP, says: “We’re very concerned to be seeing an increase in homelessness among education professionals, including teachers. We would urge anyone in the sector who might be experiencing financial problems caused by their personal circumstances, unemployment, ill health, bereavement or injury, to get in touch via our website or call our free, confidential helpline on 08000 562 561.”

Read the full article Homeless teachers: ‘I wouldn’t talk about it, I was so ashamed’.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation? Will pay issues drive more and more teachers away? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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