More are affected than live in Newcastle, Shelter report finds
MORE than 300,000 people are now on record as homeless, more than the entire population of Newcastle, according to Shelter.
But the figure, totalling 307,000, is likely to be much higher, the housing charity says, as many will not have been recorded by the authorities, with some being legally homeless but “sofa surfing” with friends or family.
Shelter took account of official rough-sleeping, temporary accommodation and social-services numbers to provide its assessment of homeless numbers in its report published today. The charity says that the total has shot up by 13,000 in a year.
It blamed welfare reforms, lack of affordable homes, the freeze on housing benefit and the roll-out of universal credit.
The charity’s chief executive Polly Neate said: “Some will have spent the night shivering on a cold pavement, others crammed into a dingy hostel room with their children.”
She said the “devastating trap of homelessness” had been worsened by decades of failure to build enough affordable homes.
A third of those living in temporary accommodation will still be homeless in a year’s time, the charity found.
Victoria, 72, from London, is living in temporary accommodation after being made homeless when her landlord decided to sell her privately rented home.
She found that landlords were reluctant to let to someone on housing benefit and that rents were unaffordable.
“Presenting myself as homeless was in itself humiliating and scary,” she said.
“I’ve moved around a lot and yet, for the first time in my life, I feel like I have no control over my situation. I’m not easily scared but the fear is terrible: you just don’t know where you are going to end up.”
Mapping the areas with the highest levels of homelessness, the charity found that the London borough of Newham is worst hit, with one in every 25 people there homeless. This was closely followed by Haringey, Westminster and Enfield in London, with similar numbers.
The Local Government Association’s housing spokesman Martin Tett said: “Councils need more resources from government to help tackle homelessness.
“The upcoming autumn Budget is an opportunity to take steps to adapt welfare reforms to ensure housing remains affordable for low-income families and allow councils to borrow to invest in building genuinely affordable homes once more.”