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'I supposedly missed a benefits appointment 10 years ago. Since then I've been homeless'

A decade ago, Eric* supposedly missed an appointment with his job coach.

His benefits were sanctioned, he says, which ultimately left him £4,500 in rent arrears. It means that the 53-year-old man from Bolton has spent the last nine years homeless — four on the streets, and five in temporary accommodation — and still cannot bid for a council house in Manchester.

He only moved to Halliwell to take care of Nana, he told the Manchester Evening News at the Barnabus homeless centre. “I had that flat for 10 years,” he recalled. “I was never late [with my rent]. I had elderly neighbours so I used to do favours for them.”

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But, despite the fact that Eric claims the authorities admitted a mistake had been made, and repaid him the money sanctioned from him, they did not refund his arrears.

He continued: “I’ve got no family. They gave me my benefits back, but I was £4,500 in arrears. I was already evicted, so they would not repay it.

“I still cannot bid for social housing in Manchester. If I had not been evicted, they said they would have repaired it.”

His stable life was turned upside down. His time on the streets saw Eric fall into drug addiction, from which he has now recovered, and suffering from septic arthritis in his knee.

Ironically, it was that knee trouble which caused him to be classed as ‘a priority’ for temporary accommodation. Now, he is in disabled accommodation.

Soon, he will move into a supported living facility which ‘will cover me for two years’. “I will try and get over my PTSD,” he added. “I might be there for six months and find my own place. I can just concentrate on my mental health and not worry