William Eichler 12 September 2019

A household became homeless ‘every four minutes’ last year, figures reveal

A household became homeless ‘every four minutes’ last year, figures reveal image

The new Government figures on homelessness in England have revealed the impact of the housing crisis on young people and families.

The figures reveal that between April 2018 and March 2019 a household became homeless every four minutes in England.

The data also shows that 56,440 young people aged 16 to 24 became homeless or were threatened with homelessness during the same period.

The homelessness charity Shelter, drawing on the official figures, warned that young people are disproportionately affected by homelessness.

They represent 21% of all applicants found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness in the last year, but make up just 14% of the general population.

Just over a fifth of households found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness lost their last settled home due to the ending of a private rented tenancy and 28% were living in a private rented home.

More than a quarter (27%) of applicants owed a homelessness duty are in work.

The countryside charity CPRE also analysed the Government's figures and found that rural communities have experienced a surge in homelessness more than twice the national increase, rising from 9,312 to 17,212 over the past year.

‘During a year where Brexit negotiations have totally dominated the political agenda, catastrophic numbers of people have become homeless,’ said Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter.

‘While the housing crisis is out of the spotlight, families with young children are trapped in grim temporary accommodation like B&Bs and shipping containers, and young people feel the damaging effects of growing up in a housing emergency.

‘Cripplingly expensive private rents, frozen housing benefits, and lengthy waiting lists for social homes are pushing people to the sharp edge of a housing emergency which won’t go away without genuinely affordable homes.

‘The Government must invest in a new generation of social homes – 3 million more in 20 years – if they are to pull hundreds of thousands of people out of homelessness. And in the meantime, they must urgently increase housing benefit so that it covers at least the bottom third of private rents.’

The think tank Reform argues that these new figures show the need for long-term funding not short-term fixes.

‘Short-term thinking and funding has blighted homelessness services,’ said Dr Luke Heselwood, senior Reform researcher.

‘While the £54m increase in funding announced in the Government’s spending round last week is welcome, it will only be a short-term fix to firefight an issue which requires long-term solutions.

‘Longer-term funding for councils is needed, which will allow them to offer people support and advice long before they are at risk of homelessness.’

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