Homelessness Epidemic Continues to Soar
By TruePublica: The homelessness epidemic afflicting Britain continues to soar as the number of people assessed by councils in England as ‘statutory homeless’ has increased by more 11% in recent months, whilst new figures released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reveal that 70,340 households were assessed as ‘threatened with homelessness or homeless’ between January to March 2019, up 10.7% just on the previous quarter.
Of these, 37,690 households were initially assessed as threatened with homelessness, up 10.2%, while 32,740 households were assessed as homeless, up 11.2% from 29,430 in October to December 2018.
The statistics also show that: “Between January to March 2019, 31,180 households who were owed assistance for being threatened with homelessness or homeless, secured accommodation for 6 months or more. But this is up only 1.3% from 30,780 the previous quarter.
On 31st March 2019, the number of households in temporary accommodation was 84,740, up 1.4% from 83,610 on 31st December 2018.
Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said the rise had been fuelled by “cripplingly expensive” rents and cuts to social security benefits and went further by saying:
“During a year where Brexit negotiations have totally dominated the political agenda, catastrophic numbers of people have become homeless. 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.”
She added: “The government must invest in a new generation of social homes – three 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.”
Meanwhile, a new report from the National Housing Foundation warns that 130,000 families are forced to live in one-bed flats, due to rising rents and a shortage in social housing. The report found that 1.3m children from more than 600,000 families are trapped in overcrowded conditions because there is nowhere else for them to live.
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In another report released only last month, it was revealed that a homeless person now dies every 19 hours on the streets of Britain, while a report published in March determined that nearly a third of homeless people die from treatable conditions, meaning hundreds of deaths could potentially have been prevented in the first place.
Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said:
“This research shows yet another devastating impact of the broken housing market. All across the country, whole families squeeze into one-bedroom flats, children sleep three to a bed, and parents are forced to spend their night in the kitchen or a hallway. This is having a huge impact on more than a million children, seriously affecting their start in life. For decades, successive governments have failed to invest in social housing, and families are paying the price.”
Henderson also said: “The only way to fix the problem is by building enough social housing, which requires a radical public spending programme – there is simply no other way. By investing £12.8bn in affordable housing every year, the Government can finally put an end to the country’s housing problem.”
The Government says its new ‘Rough Sleeping Initiative’ has helped to reduce the number of vulnerable people sleeping rough by 32% since March 2018. It admits that more needs to be done to tackle homelessness and has provided £76 million to 246 councils to help address the problem.
However, at an average rent of £500 per month, the 32,740 homeless households would last just 4.6 months on £76m. It is clear that just handing out money is not the key to solving the housing crisis.