18 December 2019

The charity’s latest review also showed a consistent rise in the number of homeless people over the past three years, with 268,330 homeless people recorded in 2017 and 276,925 in 2018.

The government data found that one in every 200 people are without a home.

In some places that figure is far higher. In Newham, east London, one in 24 people are homeless, while in Kensington and Chelsea, the number is one in 29.

Across London more widely, where private rents are typically higher, one in 52 people are now homeless, making it the country’s worst region by some margin.

Outside the capital, rates of homelessness are stark in areas such as Luton (one in 46), Birmingham (one in 66) and Brighton and Hove (one in 75). Manchester is also an area where homelessness is high, with one in 102 people without somewhere to live.

The North West has also seen the biggest increase in the total number of homeless people since 2016, when Shelter began producing its annual report. In 2019, there were 9,038 homeless people on a given night, a 117% rise on the 2016 figure, compared to a 9% rise nationally.

For the first time, Shelter’s review has also exposed that close to 220,000 people in England were threatened with homelessness in the past year.

But Shelter said that despite its report being the most comprehensive overview of homelessness in the country, it is widely known that a lot of homelessness goes undocumented, including sofa-surfing and some rough sleeping.

This means the true level of homelessness is likely to be even higher.

Shelter is warning that unless the new government takes urgent action to address the lack of social homes, the situation is likely to get worse.

Alongside its bid to get more social housing built, the charity is calling on the public to support its frontline workers as they grapple with huge demand during the Christmas period. In the past year, a call was made to Shelter’s emergency helpline every 44 seconds and its free webchat service was used almost 26,000 times.

Polly Neate, chief executive 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.”

Responding to the report, John Gray, Newham Council’s lead member for housing and deputy member said: “Since this administration came into office in May 2018, addressing the challenges created by the government’s housing crisis has been a key priority.

“Considerable work has been done in this area and for the first time in a decade, Newham has a dedicated Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Strategy which has the support of Shelter and compassion and care at its core.

“We are directing significant resources to deal with the crisis and will be spending an additional £1.4m per year to improve services supporting rough sleepers and creating preventative measures to reduce the risk of others becoming homeless."

Source: Inside Housing