The number of rough sleepers may be rising, but the people you pass in doorways and train stations are only a glimpse into the true scale of homelessness today.
New research from Crisis has revealed that 26,000 people across England are left homeless on any given night.
The study highlights how deep and wide the country’s housing crisis goes, stretching far beyond the most visible form of destitution.
The researchers found most people who are now homeless have very few support needs – whether mental health or addiction issues – but simply cannot find an affordable home.
Some of them are excluded from council housing registers because of past rent arrears and other debts. Others find themselves stuck in temporary shelter for months since the cost of trying to rent privately is now unmanageable.
We know that homelessness is not inevitable
“As the supply of social housing in England has shrunk, and fewer new tenants get access to social rented housing, the effect on single homeless people has been devastating,” said Crisis’ chief executive Jon Sparkes.
“We know that homelessness is not inevitable. With the right assistance, single homeless people can successfully secure a home to help them rebuild their lives.”
The charity welcomed the prime minister’s recent pledge to fund new social housing, but called on the government to allow single people greater access to low-cost accommodation.
Crisis wants rules on eligibility changed to stop some single people being prevented from joining housing registers, whether because of an insufficient local connection to an area, or some problem with previous tenancies.
We’re calling on the Government to end the use of blanket restrictions
The number of single people who experience homelessness in England each year is now around 200,000. And lettings to single homeless people in England have fallen from 19,000 a year in 2007 / 08 to just 13,000 in 2015 / 16.
“We’re calling on the Government to end the use of blanket restrictions that mean people who desperately need a home aren’t denied the help they need,” said Sparkes.
“Restricted eligibility for social housing is trapping more and more people in a cycle of homelessness that they have no route out of, and this just isn’t right,” he added.