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‘It feels like they’re at the front of the queue’: Locals sleeping on streets and unable to find housing hit out at plan to provide 16,000 homes for asylum seekers in their towns


Hard-up families on the housing list have hit back at government plans to provide a stock of 16,000 rental properties for asylum seekers.

Yesterday, it was reported that landlords were offered five years of guaranteed full rental payments by contractors working for the Home Office who will manage the properties as the government rushes to move asylum seekers from hotels.

But officials have warned that the move could create ‘ghettos’ as these properties have been concentrated in areas where properties are cheaper in Hull, Bradford and Teesside.

A Shelter report in 2022 showed on any given night there are 345 people homeless in Bradford, with several tents and homeless people curled up in shop doorways throughout the city centre.

Aaron Duree, 32, is a father-of-two with another child on the way. He is currently living with his sister and has been on the waiting list for a council house for six years.

Homeless Andrew Campey, 43, has been living on the streets of Bradford for 12 months. He pulls his belongings - including his tent - around with him in a supermarket trolley

Homeless Andrew Campey, 43, has been living on the streets of Bradford for 12 months. He pulls his belongings – including his tent – around with him in a supermarket trolley

A Shelter report in 2022 showed on any given night there are 345 people homeless in Bradford

A Shelter report in 2022 showed on any given night there are 345 people homeless in Bradford

There are tents and homeless people curled up in shop doorways throughout Bradford city centre

There are tents and homeless people curled up in shop doorways throughout Bradford city centre

Aaron Duree, 32, is a father-of-two with another child on the way. He is currently living with his sister and has been on the waiting list for a council house for six years

Aaron Duree, 32, is a father-of-two with another child on the way. He is currently living with his sister and has been on the waiting list for a council house for six years

He said: ‘I am Band 3, which means I am far down on the pecking order. As a single male there is no way I am going to be successfully selected for a property.

‘When I look at the properties that would be suitable for me, even a flat miles away, you are in line with another 700 people interested in the property so there is no way I’m going to get it.

‘Ideally I would like a home where I could have my kids over but I know it’s not going to be possible. They said unless I have the kids full-time or 50/50 custody then I won’t stand a cat in hell’s chance.

‘My only option is to try get on on the private rental market but you need £1500 to pay a deposit and a month’s rent before you even start, and I don’t have that. Sadly there is no help for me to do that.

‘Adding more people who need housing into Bradford is going to make my situation far worse. There are going to be more people fighting for the houses.

‘I’m wondering where these houses are supposed to be coming from? There aren’t enough now.’

Retired couple Michael and Sylvia Holmes, both aged 75, have recently moved back to Bradford to be near family after moving away for 16 years, and can see a big difference.

Retired couple Michael and Sylvia Holmes, both aged 75, have recently moved back to Bradford to be near family after moving away for 16 years, and can see a big difference

Retired couple Michael and Sylvia Holmes, both aged 75, have recently moved back to Bradford to be near family after moving away for 16 years, and can see a big difference

There are concerns areas such as Bradford could become 'ghettos' is they are used to house asylum seekers

There are concerns areas such as Bradford could become ‘ghettos’ is they are used to house asylum seekers

Bradford is one of three northern cities that is set to home 16,000 asylum seekers in rental properties to cut the cost of hotel bills

Bradford is one of three northern cities that is set to home 16,000 asylum seekers in rental properties to cut the cost of hotel bills

Michael used to work for BT, which used to have a big telephone exchange in the city centre years ago. He said: ‘This is our first visit back to the centre and I can see my office has gone and the Santander where Sylvia used to work has gone.

‘It’s looking very run down and you can see the problem with homelessness. There looks to be a high number of immigrants and adding asylum seekers into the mix will only add to the lack of community and pride in the area.

‘Asylum seekers need to be housed somewhere but I’m not sure Bradford is the answer. It doesn’t seem stable enough to be able to handle the extra burden.’

Homeless Andrew Campey, 43, has been living on the street for 12 months. He pulls his belongings – including his tent – around with him in a supermarket trolley.

Most nights he will shack up in the corner of a city centre car park but he is vulnerable to thefts and abuse.

He said: ‘I have mental health problems, suffering with anxiety and depression, and there is no help for me.

‘I am on a lot of medication but this gets stolen from me quite a lot so I’m having to do without a lot of the time, which is no good for me.

‘I am in desperate need of help. Living on the streets only makes my condition worse, but nobody wants to help me.

‘I get pushed from pillar to post with no real support. I am angry that asylum seekers get so much given to them when I have such a big need. Nobody seems to be able to see how much help I need and I get left behind.

‘At one point I was moved to Accrington and another time I was told to go to a day hostel for the homeless but it didn’t even have a toilet – how is that looking after people, being left like dogs?

‘The priority for care is all wrong.’

The Home Office is using more rented accommodation so that Rishi Sunak’s target of reducing the number of hotels used for asylum seekers – costing as much as £8million each day – can be met, insiders told The Telegraph.

Approximately 50,000 asylum seekers were housed in 400 taxpayer funded hotels, up until the end of last year. But 50 were due to close by the end of January, and another 50 should be shut by spring this year.

Retired miner Mason George, 85, from Middlesbrough, said: 'This country is not Great Britain anymore and people can do whatever they like. Our town's people can't find affordable housing, but yet asylum seekers can get them much easier'

Retired miner Mason George, 85, from Middlesbrough, said: ‘This country is not Great Britain anymore and people can do whatever they like. Our town’s people can’t find affordable housing, but yet asylum seekers can get them much easier’

Residents of Middlesbrough have labelled plans to accommodate thousands of asylum seekers while locals are left homeless on the street as 'disgusting'

Residents of Middlesbrough have labelled plans to accommodate thousands of asylum seekers while locals are left homeless on the street as ‘disgusting’

Research in 2022 also revealed Middlesbrough, where terraced properties sell for an average of £90k last year, had a 41 per cent child poverty rate

Research in 2022 also revealed Middlesbrough, where terraced properties sell for an average of £90k last year, had a 41 per cent child poverty rate

Housing asylum seekers in dispersed accommodation can reportedly cost as little as £30 every day, five times less than the £150 to put them up in hotels.

But families and young adults could face losing out on cheaper rented housing, experts advising the Home Office have advised.

A Home Office insider told The Telegraph that the department prefers dispersal accommodation as it is less expensive and ‘more discreet than hotels’.

They said that contractors were using properties in ‘pretty normal streets’, adding that someone could buy a £300,000 house and then find that next door is ‘full of asylum seekers’.

The insider said that MPs were starting to hear reports of problems because of this.

They said the properties have been ‘heavily clustered’ in areas with cheap housing, Hull, Bradford and Teesside. 

Locals in Middlesbrough, where a high concentration are expected to move to, say the country is ‘no longer Great Britain.’

The town, known for its industrial routes, was the fifth most deprived area in England in 2019 according to national data.

Research in 2022 also revealed Middlesbrough, where terraced properties sold for an average of £90k last year, had a 41 per cent child poverty rate.

Retired miner Mason George, 85, said: ‘This country is not Great Britain anymore and people can do whatever they like.

‘Our town’s people can’t find affordable housing, but yet asylum seekers can get them much easier.

‘This country is upside down and we are not spending wisely in my opinion. We should be focusing our money elsewhere.

‘Instead, private landlords are throwing people out because of rising rent and locals around here end up in tents on the street.

‘Of course if asylum seekers work then fair enough and nothing against them, but it feels like they are moving to the front of the queue in front of others.’

Billy James, a welder, believes locals in the town are being pushed aside due to ‘pathetic’ plans laid out by Downing Street.

The 29-year-old said: ‘We have loads of homeless people who have been in the Army and worked in the Forces who are left behind.

‘They used to pay tax and contribute but the Government doesn’t want to know about them.

‘Now we have asylum seekers coming in and they are looked after better.

‘I guarantee they will receive more money than some locals who work around here so I don’t think the incentive will be there for all of them to work.

‘The Government has probably decided to put them here because Boro is really rough so maybe they’re putting them in the worst places.’

The North East has the highest rate of homelessness in the country with over 2,000 left without a registered address.

Another man, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘I think the situation is pathetic.

‘We have English homeless people on our streets and what is being done to help them find housing?

‘All these veterans are not being given enough help and empty houses are being filled with other people.

‘I think it’s a disgusting thing. I worry for my kids when they get older because how are people supposed to buy affordable housing.’



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