LONDON, April 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A rise in
online adverts offering accommodation in Britain rent-free in
exchange for sex has fuelled fears among charities over the
safety of young, homeless people who could fall prey to sexual
One posting offered escort work along with accommodation.
Another proposed a rent-free "friends with benefits"
The ads posted on U.S.-based internet bulletin board
Craigslist have prompted charities to call for the website's
vetting procedures to be examined.
Craigslist did not respond to a request for comment.
"I think it's awful that young people are in a situation
where they consider taking up these ads," Jennifer Barnes, head
of policy and research for Centrepoint homeless charity, told
the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Last year more than 4,100 people slept rough in England, a
16 percent rise on the year before, according to the Department
for Communities and Local Government.
Barnes said besides searching for housing on websites like
Craigslist, some young people were using dating apps and dating
websites to find shelter, while others were approaching people
in clubs or bars and asking whether they could stay with them.
Many young people who end up homeless are escaping abuse at
home and need accommodation last minute, Barnes said.
"Young people aren't doing this because they want to,
they're doing it because they're desperate for somewhere to
stay," Barnes said. "By going down this route they're putting
themselves at significant risk."
A survey by Centrepoint in December found that 26 percent of
young, homeless people had stayed in the house of a stranger.
(Reporting by Sally Hayden @sallyhayd, Editing by Katie
Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian
news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate
change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)