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Homeless families in unstable housing could top 100,000 by 2020

Councils are being forced to place more people in unstable temporary accommodation as they struggle to find proper housing for homeless people in their area, according an annual report.

Since 2010 the estimated number of rough sleepers in England has soared by 169%, and there were 19,000 more annual homelessness acceptances in 2016-17 than in 2009-10.

With a rise in homelessness acceptances of 2% over the past year, they now stand at 48% above their 2009-10 low point, although according to the report, administrative changes mean that these official statistics understate the true increase in “homelessness expressed demand” over recent years.

The homes monitor: England 2018,’ funded by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, reveals that since 2010-11, homeless placements in temporary accommodation have risen sharply at twice the rate of homelessness acceptances, with an increase of 61% compared to six years earlier.

Almost three-quarters of local authorities surveyed for the report said that they had had difficulties finding social housing for homeless people last year, and a huge 80% reported difficulties in finding private rented accommodation.

There are 78,000 homeless households in England in temporary accommodation, and if this trend continues, this could top 100,000 by 2020. The authors argued that Local Housing Allowance reforms are a major driver of the association between loss of private tendencies and homelessness.

Despite the continuing strong growth of the private rented sector overall, the number of housing benefit/Universal Credit claimants who are private tenants is now around 5% lower than when the reforms began in 2011.

As well as narrowing opportunities to access the private rented sector, the reports states that there is a growing evidence of a squeeze on homeless households’ access to social tenancies, arising from the pressure on the “highly diminished pool of available social rented properties,” and an increase in social landlord anxieties about letting to benefit-reliant households.

John Sparks, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Today’s report makes it clear that, unless we take action as a society, this problem will only keep getting worse. Homelessness is not inevitable and our research has shown how it can become a thing of the past.”

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesman, argued that councils are determined to prevent this situation and support homeless people to find accommodation quickly and effectively.

“Local authorities are currently housing more than 77,000 homeless families with in excess of 120,000 homeless children in temporary accommodation,” he added. “Whilst they are doing all they can to help families facing homelessness, it’s essential that the new Homelessness Reduction Act duties on councils are fully funded.”

Tett noted that a move towards tackling the ambition to end homelessness outright is vital.

“We need the full range of public bodies to cooperate with councils in addressing homelessness. It is also essential that all councils are able to borrow to build new homes and adapt welfare reforms to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place,” he concluded.

Top image: Jonathan Brady PA Archive

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