Laura Sharman 13 October 2021

Poor housing making millions of people sick, charity warns

Poor housing making millions of people sick, charity warns image

Housing problems are harming the physical and mental health of one in five renters in England, new research from Shelter has revealed.

The homelessness charity found 22% of renters – or 1.9 million households – say issues with their current housing situation are harming their health.

Nearly one in four renters (39%) said their housing problems or worries left them feeling stressed and anxious, while 21% said the problems had negatively affected their performance at work.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘The cost of poor housing is spilling out into overwhelmed GP surgeries, mental health services, and hours lost from work. The new housing secretary must get a grip on the housing crisis and tackle a major cause of ill health.

’Listening to the calls flooding into our helpline there is no doubt that health and housing go hand in hand. Yet, millions of renters are living in homes that make them sick because they are mouldy, cold, unaffordable and grossly insecure. The stress and suffering that comes with not knowing if you can pay your rent from month to month, or if you will face eviction is huge.’

The survey revealed that 26% of renters are living somewhere with damp and mould, 26% of renters are unable to heat their homes, and 21% are struggling to pay rent. Renters experiencing these issues are three times more likely to say their current housing situation is harming their health compared to renters without these issues.

Vicki Nash, head of policy, campaigns and public affairs at Mind, added: 'Shelter’s worrying report shows the impact poor and unstable housing has on our mental health. Everyone deserves a safe, affordable, stable, and suitable place to live, not somewhere which makes us feel ‘hopeless’, and worsens our mental health. Social issues such as jobs, housing and benefits play a huge role in the nation’s mental health.

'Addressing the underlying causes of poor mental health can prevent people being pushed into poverty, allow people to live independently, and reduce the need for more intensive support further down the line.'

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