How COVID-19 has deepened the housing crisis

UNISON is conducting a survey as members tell us their housing worries post lockdown

As workplaces have been closed and jobs lost, the strain of managing expensive housing costs has affected both renters and homeowners alike.

If you’ve found yourself in housing difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, please tell UNISON here. 

When lockdown came, school kitchen assistant Adriana Chirica lost all her work: “Even though the school was open for some vulnerable students, the kitchen was not. So I had no income for 8 weeks.

“Our housing costs are £1,100 a month with bills on top. My husband is freelance, and though he got a grant from the government, we have still had to borrow money from family in Romania and live off credit cards.”

“It’s been hard. So hard. We’ve been counting each slice of bread we eat. I’m a cook, I never buy food ready-made, I do everything from scratch. But for months, there’s not even the money to buy ingredients.”

Ruth Carter, a teaching assistant, found herself in a similar situation when lockdown came: “I was supporting a visually impaired student, but when lockdown came and he was in the shielding group, I lost my job in May.”

“It was a nightmare really, because all the schools were shut and there were no jobs to apply for. Initially I was told I would get furlough pay as I was being kept on by them, and although they said I did qualify, they said they were waiting to find out from the government what the pay rate would be. I never heard from them again.

“Luckily, my partner still has her job, and free school meal vouchers have helped us do our weekly shop.  But it was still really tricky, and we ended up having to apply for Universal Credit, which was a painful process.

“We were able to defer our mortgage payments twice, in two three-month options. That’s been a lifesaver for us. Of course, that’ll get added on, and we’re waiting on what the recalculated monthly costs will be.

“It’s had a really big impact on my mental health. I had a real low point where I just couldn’t see how I was going to get another job. For a long time there was nothing to apply for, and once the schools started reopening again, jobs started coming up and I didn’t get interviews, or had interviews and then didn’t get the job. I had a real crash and was really struggling.

But luckily, some old colleagues reached out to me and I’m starting a new role in September. I’m so glad to be earning something again.”

UNISON is conducting a housing survey to understand more about the housing issues that members face, and how UNISON can support them. Have your say here.