According to new statistics from Shelter, there are at least 271,000 homeless individuals in England, including 123,000 children.
According to Shelter’s comprehensive examination of official homelessness statistics and replies to a Freedom of Information request, one in every 208 persons in England are homeless.
There are 2,400 individuals sleeping rough on any given night, 15,000 in hostels or assisted housing, and approximately 250,000 in temporary housing, the majority of whom are families.
In the past decade, there has been an alarming 74% increase in the number of individuals living in temporary housing. According to the charity, this is due to a chronic scarcity of social housing and an over-reliance on excessively overpriced and insecure private renting.
More than two-thirds (68%) of families living in temporary housing have been there for more than a year, indicating that this form of housing is becoming less and less “temporary” as families are unable to avoid homelessness due to the acute scarcity of affordable housing.
According to Shelter, this position is exacerbated by the three-year freeze on housing benefit and the devastating cost of living crisis.
In addition to measuring the overall number of homeless individuals, Shelter has conducted the largest survey ever of homeless households residing in temporary housing.
The groundbreaking research discovered that living in temporary housing had a devastating effect on people’s health:
- Almost two-thirds of people (63%) say that living in temporary accommodation has had a negative impact on their mental health.
- Half (51%) say that it has had a negative impact on their physical health.
- Two in five people (39%) say that living in temporary accommodation has made it harder to access healthcare appointments.
In anticipation of a major spike in homelessness in 2023, a shelter has issued an urgent need for public help.
The charity’s emergency helpline receives an average of 1,000 calls per day, of which nearly eight in ten (78%) callers are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, a statistic which has climbed by 8% since last year.
Phil, 65, has a heart condition and is currently living in his van in Camberley. Phil became homeless after the breakdown of his relationship with his partner of 21 years.
Phil has been keeping his belongings in storage but can no longer afford the cost and has now had to get rid of everything.
Phil said: “The cold has been the hardest thing about living in the van. I can’t cook anything so I’m mostly living on crap food. I have a MacDonalds most days but I’m running out of money for things like that now. I’ve never been so tight in my life.
“I’ve got good friends so I can go there and get a shower. I could sofa surf but I’m a 65-year-old man and I don’t want to be a burden.
“I’m ashamed of my life sometimes. They say you should take the ups with the downs in life, but it feels like I’ve had more downs lately. I’d just like somewhere where I could close my door, have a bath, sit down and cook myself something to eat.”
New analysis by Shelter identifies the locations in England where homelessness is most prevalent. London has the highest rate of homelessness, with one in every 58 individuals living on the streets. One in 21 people in Newham are homeless, followed by one in 27 people in Westminster and one in 28 people in Haringey (one in 33 people).
Outside of London, Luton has the greatest rate of homelessness with one in every 65 individuals being homeless, followed by Manchester with one in every 74 and Brighton & Hove with one in every 78. While one in eighty persons in Birmingham are homeless.
While Shelter’s report provides the most complete overview of recognised homelessness in the country, the actual number is likely to be substantially higher because some forms of homelessness, such as ‘sofa surfing’, are not documented.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The new year should be a time of hope, but this isn’t the case for the 271,000 homeless people who are facing a truly bleak 2023.
“A cold doorway or a grotty hostel room is not a home, but this is reality for too many people today.
“Our frontline advisers are working tirelessly to help people who are desperate to escape homelessness – from the parents doing all they can to provide some shred of a normal family life while stuck in an emergency B&B, to the person terrified of another night sleeping rough.
“With private rents and living costs continuing to soar, thousands of people are not just facing a winter of worry, they are at risk of losing the roof over their head. At Shelter, we are bracing ourselves for a sharp rise in homelessness in 2023.
“More than ever, we will be relying on the public’s generosity to help us support and campaign for all those fighting for a safe home.”