Housing

Twice as many women as men are living in London's temporary accommodation

More than 42,000 women are in temporary accommodation across London’s 32 boroughs. The figures should act as a "wake up call", say experts.

temporary accommodation

The number of women living in temporary accommodation in London is twice the number of men in the same position. Image: Fernando Rodrigues / Unsplash

The number of women living in temporary accommodation in London is double that of men, figures show.

A snapshot analysis of government figures by London Councils revealed 42,000 people living in temporary accommodation in the English capital identified as female compared to 21,700 adult males.

Meanwhile, almost 40 per cent of homeless households put up in B&Bs, hostels and other short-term accommodation in the capital are single mothers alongside more than 86,000 children in the 32 boroughs.

“The specific challenges around women’s homelessness are too often overlooked. We’re hugely concerned by the number of women becoming homeless and requiring temporary accommodation in the capital,” said Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for housing and planning, of the analysis which was released on International Women’s Day.

“London continues to suffer the highest homelessness rates in the country – especially in terms of the hidden homelessness identified through temporary accommodation figures. More must be done to understand the particularly severe impact on female Londoners and to help them avoid homelessness.”

Councillors are calling for more welfare support to help low-income Londoners to help them meet housing costs, particularly with the looming cost of living crisis.

They also asked for greater freedom to build new council housing to alleviate the financial pressures of covering homelessness support in the English capital. London Councils estimates that collectively almost £1 billion each year is spent on homelessness support across London, with London accounting for two thirds of all homelessness in England. 

Alex Firth, senior coordinator at Human Rights Watch, recently released a report into temporary accommodation across London. He described the figures as a “wake-up call”.

 “Women, and in particular women of colour, are overrepresented in temporary accommodation and with women also more likely to be the primary caregiver for children, we have high numbers of homeless children in the capital,” said Firth.

“These figures should act as a wakeup call to the government to address this shameful situation and work towards empowering women out of homelessness and into stable, long-term, social housing.”

Overall, women account for around 16 per cent of rough sleeping cases in London, according to the most recent CHAIN figures, although this is considered to be an underestimate as women are more likely to stay in hidden spots for safety reasons.

But women are much likely to experience hidden homelesssness and also face drivers of homelessness that are almost entirely specific to them, such as fleeing domestic abuse. 

London Councils added that more research and policy focus is required to understand how to prevent women from falling into homelessness in the first place.

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