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.

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
How can I help homeless people during a UK heatwave?
uk heatwave
Homelessness

How can I help homeless people during a UK heatwave?

Our right to housing is dependent on our immigration status – that's the definition of racism
Homelessness

Our right to housing is dependent on our immigration status – that's the definition of racism

Academics put trackers on homeless people – what they learned could be a 'game-changer'
A homeless person is interviewed on the streets of Sutton
Rough sleeping

Academics put trackers on homeless people – what they learned could be a 'game-changer'

Activist Kwajo Tweneboa: 'We're facing the biggest housing crisis since World War II'
Housing

Activist Kwajo Tweneboa: 'We're facing the biggest housing crisis since World War II'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

Support our vendors with a subscription

For each subscription to the magazine, we’ll provide a vendor with a reusable water bottle, making it easier for them to access cold water on hot days.