Britain’s homelessness crisis is getting worse.
90,000 children across England, Scotland and Wales, will wake up homeless this Christmas – even worse, that’s thousands more than last year.
You won’t see them on the street, because councils have a duty to find families that are legally homeless somewhere to stay.
But they’re still homeless – just hidden away. They’ll spend Christmas Day in temporary accommodation, like a bed and breakfast or hostel. Some will have no access to cooking facilities, and very little furniture.
Imagine eating your Christmas dinner in bed or on the floor. That’s reality for many homeless families.
And it gets worse. Because of the growing housing crisis, councils are being forced to stray further afield to find temporary accommodation – so these children may have been placed in temporary accommodation miles away from their schools, their extended family and friends.
Make no mistake – they may be out of sight but these 90,000 children are bearing the brunt of Britain’s housing crisis.
Why is this happening?
The single leading cause of homelessness, accounting for nearly a third of homelessness cases, is the end of a tenancy in the private rented sector. The proportion of homelessness cases involving the end of a tenancy in the private sector has been steadily rising over the last few year, and continues to rise.
Private renting is insecure. There’s nothing in the law to stop landlords asking families to leave at the end of their short fixed-term tenancy, even if they’ve lived in a home for years.
And because so many people are trapped renting, renting is expensive. It can be a struggle to find somewhere affordable, especially if your wages are low and you need housing benefit.
Sadly, this trend is likely to continue because we simply don’t have enough affordable homes to meet demand.
Until we have enough, thousands of families will have no alternative but to rent privately, and be at the mercy of the private rented sector. They’ll be immediately at risk of homelessness if they are asked to leave by their landlord and can’t find anywhere else to stay.
Until we have enough affordable homes, we’ll see more and more families homeless and spending Christmas in temporary accommodation.
This isn’t a problem without a solution though. In fact, it’s a pretty simple problem to solve – build more homes.
First though, we need to give immediate help to the families facing homelessness this Christmas – which is what Shelter advisers do day-in and day-out.
Our expert legal advisers work directly with homeless families to try and stop them ever becoming homeless in the first place. And if the worst happens, we help them find and settle into a safe, secure new home.
But the need for our services is growing, which is why we’ve launched an emergency appeal today.
Over the long-term we need to solve the crisis by getting the government to build the affordable homes we so desperately need. And we need changes to the private rented sector so it’s more stable and secure.
90,000 children shouldn’t be homeless – let alone at Christmas.
Shelter is fighting to make sure they won’t be.