Over 309,600 people are homeless and wishing for a home this winter

Published: by Ella Nuttall

A young boy in a dimly lit room looks sad

Homelessness rises by 14% in a year as the housing emergency deteriorates

New research from Shelter shows that at least 309,000 people in England will spend Christmas without a home. Almost half of them (140,000) are children.

This blog explores our key findings. You can also read the full report on our website.

More people are homeless in England than ever before

Homelessness is notoriously difficult to research. Its true scale is often obscured by patchy data collection and by the hidden nature of homelessness.

By combining multiple data sources and conducting further analysis, our research aims to show the true extent of homelessness in England.

We found that, shockingly, one in 182 people in England are homeless today.

A stark increase over the last year

The research also shows that homelessness is rising rapidly: over 38,000 more people are homeless in England today than this time last year – a 14% increase. Over 3,000 people are sleeping rough each night – that’s 26% higher than just one year ago. Over a quarter of a million people (279,400) are now living in temporary accommodation: a 14% increase in twelve months.

Because many forms of homelessness are not recorded or underreported, this figure is likely to be an underestimate of the true figure.

The housing emergency is affecting all of England

The housing emergency is at its most acute in London with one in 51 people now homeless. Shockingly, the analysis shows that there are now one in 20 people homeless in Newham. London is not alone in having high rates of homelessness. One in 71 people are now homeless in Manchester and one in 88 people are now homeless in Brighton and Hove.  The map below shows the rates of homelessness across local authorities in England.

For more detail, see the full report.

Beyond the data

Behind these figures are over 306,000 people whose lives are being put on hold by their fight for a home.

Until recently, one of them was Sky, a civil servant who works part time. Along with her husband and their three children, she was homeless in London for five years. After a section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction they were moved to accommodation in shocking condition.

‘The temporary accommodation we were given when we became homeless had severe mould and leaks that dripped through the electrics. We also had mice and they would go through our bread in the morning. My son had mould beside his bed. This made his health deteriorate and he struggled to breathe. Eventually, he got a skin condition and a cyst in his throat and had to take medication. 

‘No human being should live in conditions like that. None of it was fair on me, my children and our health. The worst part is not knowing where I will be next and how long I will be in temporary accommodation for. I used to just go and sit in my car and just look at the sky. I thought that if I broke down, the whole family would break down.’

Sky is not alone. Over three quarters of people in temporary accommodation report that their accommodation is in poor condition, with one in five experiencing a safety hazard. And a shocking six in ten parents report that being homeless has harmed their child’s health.

So, what can you do to end homelessness?

Donate, if you can, to our urgent appeal. The only way to end homelessness for good is if we all stand together to campaign for investment in the social homes we need to end the housing emergency. But, in the meantime, we want to help more of the thousands of people going through homelessness: people freezing on the streets and families whose children are at risk in damaging temporary accommodation. Because no one should go through homelessness alone.

With your support, we can keep campaigning for genuine solutions to end the housing emergency for good, by holding the government to account for its promises. And we can stand together with the thousands of individuals and families who are homeless on the streets and in temporary accommodation right now. Our advisors and support workers empower people facing homelessness with the knowledge to enforce their rights. Please donate if you can.

Join us in putting pressure on the government to urgently invest in a new generation of social homes which are genuinely affordable and permanent. Please sign our letter calling on the next government to make this investment.