William Eichler 14 August 2019

Nearly one third of homeless fatalities occur in temporary accommodation

New research has revealed that a person affected by homelessness is dying every 19 hours with nearly a third of fatalities occurring in emergency or temporary accommodation.

An investigation by the Museum of Homelessness has found that, despite the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act in 2017, at least 235 people affected by homelessness have died over the last six months.

The people who have died range from 16 to 104 years old.

The Homelessness Reduction Act was billed as the biggest change to homelessness legislation in four decades and it introduced new duties to prevent and relieve homelessness.

The Museum of Homelessness, a charity focusing on homelessness, has – along with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism – recorded the deaths of almost 1,000 homeless people since October 2017.

They also calculate that more than 30% of fatalities in the last two years have occurred when people were in emergency or temporary accommodation.

The charity’s co-founder Matt Turtle commented: ‘People affected by homelessness continue to die at a shocking rate despite the passage of the homelessness reduction act nearly 18 months ago.

‘We regularly hear from people who feel they’re safer on the streets than in hostels and this data shows why. People are placed in inadequate, unsafe accommodation, whether badly run hostels or other forms of private rented accommodation, with all too often fatal consequences.’

Responding to the figures, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said: ‘It is simply unacceptable that any life should be cut short due to homelessness.

‘This Government is committed to ensuring everyone has a safe place to live. Councils are responsible for helping people at risk of being homeless so they can get the safety and support they need.’

A Local Government Association spokesperson said: 'With homelessness services facing a funding gap of more than £100m in 2019/20 and £421m by 2024/25, the Government needs to sustainably fund homelessness prevention.

'Many councils have updated their homelessness prevention strategies since the Homelessness Reduction Act was introduced last year. But a lack of affordable housing has left many struggling to cope with rising number of people coming to them for help and having to place more families and households into temporary and emergency accommodation as a result.'

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