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274,000 people in England are homeless, with thousands more likely to lose their homes

09 Dec 274,000 people in England are homeless, with thousands more likely to lose their homes

More than 274,000 people are homeless in England right now, including 126,000 children, according to new research published by Shelter today.

Shelter’s detailed analysis of official rough-sleeping and temporary accommodation figures shows that one in every 206 people in England are currently without a home. Of these, 2,700 people are sleeping rough on any given night, nearly 15,000 single people in direct access hostels and nearly 250,000 people are living in temporary accommodation – most of whom are families.

Covid protections such as the ‘Everyone In’ scheme, the eviction ban, and the boost to Universal Credit played a vital role in keeping people in their homes and suppressing homelessness during the pandemic. Now Shelter is warning with these protections gone, living costs soaring and another uncertain winter ahead, there is a risk of the flood gates reopening and thousands more people losing their homes.

Shelter is calling on the public to support its frontline workers who have been inundated with calls to its emergency helpline from people facing homelessness this winter. The charity says it’s hearing from people who are facing a night on the streets in freezing conditions after being turned away from emergency accommodation. As well as thousands of families in dire straits living in grotty hostel rooms where parents and siblings are forced to share beds, and there are only communal facilities.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “We predicted the pandemic would trigger a rising tide of evictions and our services are starting to see the reality of this now. We’re flooded with calls from families and people of all ages who are homeless or on the verge of losing their home.”

One of the families who have lost their home already is Tomasz, his wife and young children. They have been living in a shed in the garden of an emergency hostel in Ilford since being evicted in August. Tomasz is priced out of private renting despite working long hours as a maintenance worker. The bathroom in their cramped hostel room is broken and they have to use the main building’s shared bathroom, which scares his children as they have to go out in the dark at night.

Tomasz said: “In the room the main difficulty is the lack of space. A lot of the time the kids have to sit on the bed to eat and everything is in boxes. School work is such a difficulty. A lot of school homework needs internet, but we don’t have WiFi. I contacted school and told them what was happening so the kids don’t get in trouble. Everything is a challenge – last week I had to wait until 11 o’clock before I could make breakfast as there were so many people queuing up to use the facilities.

“This Christmas I’m telling the kids that Santa will still be able to find them. I’m trying to make it better by putting up a small Christmas tree on the shelf and a Christmas light in the window. I want to try and make it as normal as possible but it’s so stressful and depressing.”