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A new report from Shelter indicates 253,000 people in England are homeless and living in temporary accommodation during the pandemic, which is the highest figure for 14 years.
Rising homelessness is already a major problem with the latest figures showing 115,000 more people are homeless and trapped in temporary accommodation than a decade ago, but Shelter argues the economic chaos caused by Covid-19 risks turbo-charging the crisis. The charity’s analysis of government data shows the number of people in temporary accommodation jumped by 6,000 in the first three months after the pandemic struck.
However, the number of people experiencing homelessness is undoubtedly higher, as many people will be undocumented by councils because they are sleeping rough or sofa-surfing.
Shelter’s Homeless and Forgotten report examines the lives blighted by the housing emergency and lack of social homes, which is leaving thousands stuck in unstable temporary accommodation with nowhere else to go. Temporary accommodation provided by councils can range from a self-contained flat to an emergency B&B room with shared facilities. One in six homeless households (17%) are currently placed into emergency B&Bs and hostels, where poor conditions and gross overcrowding are rife. The use of emergency B&Bs alone has increased by a staggering 371% over the last ten years.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Over a quarter of a million people – half of them children – are homeless and stuck in temporary accommodation. This should shame us all. With this deadly virus on the loose, 2020 has taught us the value of a safe home like never before. But too many are going without, because of the chronic lack of social homes.
“Many people will spend Christmas in grim, dangerous places, cut off from loved ones and faced with a daily struggle to eat or keep clean. As the country continues to reel from the financial shockwaves caused by the pandemic, our services will do all they can to support those battling homelessness. This year has been unbelievably tough, but with the public’s generous support we will do our best to give hope and help to everyone who needs us.”
The report also revealed which parts of the country have the highest number of homeless people trapped in temporary accommodation:
More than two-thirds (68%) of all homeless people living in temporary accommodation are in London – this equates to 1 every 52 people in the capital.
In London, Newham has the highest rates of people in temporary accommodation (1 in 23), followed by Haringey (1 in 28), and Kensington and Chelsea (1 in 29).
Outside of the capital, Luton has the highest rate of people in temporary accommodation (1 in 55). This is followed by Brighton and Hove (1 in 78), Manchester (1 in 93) and Birmingham (1 in 94).
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