A mental health worker faces sleeping in his own car as he cannot afford to rent his council flat.
Gareth Ward, from Norwich, Norfolk, will soon become part of Britain’s so-called ‘hidden homeless’ – people who only have temporary accommodation.
The 48-year-old can no longer afford to rent the property on his £1,000 a month salary.
With his rent at £700 and council tax at £120, along with the rise in gas prices, he is left with little to no money even before he buys food.
Gareth has now stopped paying his rent and is awaiting eviction due to the cost of living crisis.
He will fully move into his 15-year-old Vauxhall Zafira when he is finally kicked out from the flat, which could be later this year.
He said: It’s a scary move, a huge life change. But I’ve got no ties, my bosses know what I’m doing and at this point, the pros outweigh the cons.
‘I can be free from the burden of debt and bills and make my life as comfortable as I can in what would otherwise be a potentially dangerous situation.’
In a country marked by extreme inequality and staggering housing prices, Gareth is not alone.
Housing insecurity is a major problem, and he is just one of the millions of renters paying the price for Britain’s recent economic instability.
Using DIY videos online, Gareth is slowly transforming his car ahead of the drop in temperatures during the winter.
He has also installed smash-proof glass, blacked out the windows, purchased a camping gas cooker and added a kettle and boot storage to the car.
Thinking of all the details, he is also taking out a PureGym membership for access to showers and gym facilities.
‘I have struggled with paying rent for a tiny one-bed flat for three years, and on top of paying for a car it’s become impossible,’ he said.
‘I’m fed up with it, all I do is work and sleep, whilst struggling to eat. I suffer from anxiety but with this plan, I can take to the open road.
‘I won’t be struggling anymore and I’ll be able to afford a warm meal.’
Gareth hopes to save over £700 a month by moving into his Vauxhall, be able to visit new places and improve his mental health in the process.
For now, it is a waiting game until he is evicted from his current flat as part of the Norwich City Council private sector housing scheme.
A spokesperson for the local authority said: ‘Our Let NCC scheme is designed to help address the shortage of social and affordable housing.
‘We work with property owners so that we can provide homes below current market rent levels.
‘We would urge anyone using the scheme to contact us if they are having difficulties meeting their rent payments.
‘We can signpost to any support they may be entitled to, as well as provide free housing advice.’
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