Man who became homeless in COVID-19 crisis says it is 'the most terrifying time of his life'

30 June 2020, 11:16

By Elizabeth Longley

An Italian man who had been working in Manchester has revealed how he was made homeless due to the "accident" of coronavirus after losing his job.

Gustavo Caferra has lived and worked in the city for 12 years.

Originally from Italy, he moved to the city to work as a translator but when the pandemic hit, he lost his job – and three months later, his home, forcing him to sleep rough.

He had to resort to relying on the kindness of strangers for food and money for the first time in his life

Gustavo became homeless due to the coronavirus crisis
Gustavo became homeless due to the coronavirus crisis. Picture: LBC News

After two weeks on the streets, Gustavo managed to secure a place at a hostel but he’s still looking for work and a permanent home.

Speaking to LBC, he said the last few weeks have been the most terrifying of his life.

“A day feels like a week and a week is like a year. You lose control of everything. It’s like you’re crossing the street and you’re hit by a car – it’s an accident. That was my situation, an accident.”

Gustavo became homeless a couple of weeks ago after he lost his job and was unable to keep up with his rent.

“I had been working for several years as a translator and I lost my job in the first week of march.

“Since then everything has become a bit difficult for me and I just ended up on the streets.

“It was very tough, this situation because of the virus."

He said his first day on the streets was “very very crazy.”

“You cannot count on anybody, only on yourself.

"Things really got tough."

He said the process of getting help “goes very slowly”

Being on the streets is “very dangerous and difficult, and anything can happen,” he said.

Homeless charity Crisis has revealed 53 percent of frontline services have seen a rise in homelessness as people across Great Britain struggle in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as Centrepoint, a charity that supports 16–25 year olds at risk of homelessness, has seen a 50 percent rise in calls to its helpline since lockdown began.

Helpline Manager Paul Brocklehurst told LBC: “There’s probably going to be businesses going out of trading and more redundancies.

"Furlough schemes are going to have to come to an end at some point.

"There’s currently a freeze on private sector evictions but that’s going to come to an end at some point too, so I think there are a lot of things that are going to put additional pressure on housing and homelessness services.”

The government’s ‘Everybody In’ initiative placed more than two thousand homeless people in Greater Manchester’s hotels. However, that scheme was only set to last until the end of June.

Mayor Andy Burnham has his own initiative called ‘A Bed Every Night’, which provides temporary accommodation and support to rough sleepers. His concern now is keeping up with a rising demand without breaking social distancing rules.

“While it’s been unbelievable what’s been achieved in the last few months, there’s a huge challenge still ahead of us and the funding isn’t necessarily all there to support everybody.”

Last week the government promised £105 million to councils to help homeless people secure tenancies.