New figures released by the homeless charity Shelter reveal the devastating extent of England’s ever-worsening homelessness epidemic, with one in every two hundred people spending Christmas without a home to call their own.
Analysis of offical government data on rough-sleeping and the number of people living in temporary accommodation reveals that 280,000 people are recorded as being homeless in England, an increase of 23,000 since 2016.
Shelter’s report, This is England: a picture of homelessness in 2019, also warns that a further 220,000 people in England were at risk of becoming homeless in the last year.
The charity blames a shortage in social housing and cuts to welfare benefits for pushing people into crisis, and calls for radical change to prevent the homelessness number from increasing further.
According to the report, London is the worst affected where 1 in every 52 people are known to be homeless, but many other towns and cities are also blighted by homelessness including Birmingham (1 in 66) and Manchester (1 in 102).
But Shelter says the true extent of England’s homelessness crisis may be much worse, because official data doesn’t account for the ‘hidden homeless’, such as so-called ‘sofa surfers’ who are being given shelter by friends and family but still don’t have their own home.
Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter, said: “Homelessness blights lives and leaves a lasting imprint of trauma, and yet 280,000 people in England are without a home this Christmas. And many are only days away from joining them.
“As well as those facing serious ill-health or even death sleeping rough on our streets this winter, there are thousands of families trapped in grotty emergency B&Bs, with no space for children to sit and eat, let alone play.
“This is the grim truth our new government must confront and do something radical to change. Until the government acts to stem this crisis, the work of our frontline advisers remains critical.
“With the public’s support, we will do everything we can to help people find a safe and stable place to live – no matter how long it takes.”
A seperate report from Shelter, published earlier this month, warned that a child becomes homeless in Britain every eight minutes.
The report ‘Generation Homeless‘ revealed that 183 children lose their home every day, enough to fill 2.5 double decker buses.
Commenting on that report, Polly Neate said: “The fact 183 children become homeless every day is a scandalous figure and sharp reminder that political promises about tackling homelessness must be turned into real action.
“Day in, day out we see the devastating impact the housing emergency is having on children across the country.
“They are being uprooted from friends; living in cold, cramped B&Bs and going to bed at night scared by the sound of strangers outside.”