One in every 200 people in England is now homeless

17 December 2019, 20:06

London has the highest rate of homelessness in the UK
London has the highest rate of homelessness in the UK. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The number of homeless people in England has risen to 280,000 - the highest figure ever.

This is an increase of 23,000 since 2016, meaning that one in every 200 people in England is now without a home.

Homeless charity Shelter said that the real numbers could actually be higher due to some types of homelessness often going undocumented.

This includes people who "sofa surf" and stay with friends and family while they have nowhere else to go.

A new review found London came out worse in the figures, with one in every 52 people now homeless in the capital.

But shockingly, one in 24 people are homeless in Newham, which has the highest number.

This is closely followed by Haringey and Kensington & Chelsea, both with one in 29.

The charity's report also found that, outside the capital, rates of homelessness are "stark" in areas such as Luton (one in 46), Birmingham (one in 66), and Brighton and Hove (one in 75).

Shelter have warned the numbers may actually be much higher
Shelter have warned the numbers may actually be much higher. Picture: PA

Sarah Martin, from Brent in north-west London, spent a year living in "squalid" and cockroach-infested temporary accommodation with her 14-year-old son, Ishmael.

The pair became homeless after Ms Martin's mother died and they were evicted from the house.

The 40-year-old said: "I suffered a mini-stroke as a result of MS, which led to myself and Ishmael moving back in with my mum for extra support.

"We were dealt another blow when my mum passed away - before I even had time to grieve, we were facing eviction from the place we'd called home for years."

In the temporary accommodation the small family were forced to share a bathroom and kitchen with other tenants.

"People would stumble around the corridors wild-eyed on drink and drugs and one poor woman tried to set herself alight.

"It was completely terrifying.

"Ishmael's cheeky smile vanished, replaced by a nervous frown. He had been getting really good grades at school but they plummeted.

"We finally moved out of the hostel and into a flat this summer, which is also temporary accommodation. I'm so happy to be out of the hostel," she said.

Levels of homelessness in the UK have risen
Levels of homelessness in the UK have risen. Picture: PA

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said: "This is the grim truth our new Government must confront and do something radical to change.

"Until the Government acts to stem this crisis, the work of our frontline advisers remains critical.

"With the public's support we will do everything we can to help people find a safe and stable place to live - no matter how long it takes."

The charity is warning the new Government must take "urgent" action to address the "dire lack of social homes at the crux of this emergency, before the situation is likely to get worse".

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it was supporting councils to reduce the numbers of people in temporary accommodation.

He added: "(We're) giving £1.2 billion to tackle all types of homelessness.

"Everyone should have somewhere safe to live, and councils have a duty to provide accommodation to those who need it, including families with children."

The findings are published in Shelter's report This Is England: A Picture Of Homelessness In 2019.