No place to call home - the truth about homelessness and the so called ‘Hidden Homeless’
The sights of someone sleeping rough in a shop door way or under a bridge are, sadly all too familiar today. As recently as February this year, a ‘Homeless man dies on the steps of Parliament’ was a front-page news headline. Hidden Homelessness however, is an issue not so many are aware of, it is however, a huge problem and on the increase.
Hidden homeless are people without a place to call home, but who are ‘hidden’ from official statistics as they have not registered themselves as homeless with their council and are not receiving any support. They often find themselves in risky situations, including sofa surfing, sleeping rough, squatting, sleeping in hotels or temporary accommodation or even sleeping in cars on public transport.
Often as the result of a relationship breakdown, mental health issue, losing a job or loved one, people unexpectedly find themselves without a home. You won’t see these people as they have a ‘roof over their head’ however, they are often sleeping in a different place from one night to the next.
Impact of not having a home
The impacts of not having a home can be huge. In the very worst cases where people find themselves sleeping outside, there is a great risk of abuse, assault and exploitation.
It affects mental health and wellbeing. Not only that but not having a home brings about practical issues too; Applying for a job or benefits without an address is very difficult. And for children, not having a bedroom, the facility to sit and eat a meal or do homework is hugely unsettling and a cause for anxiety.
Size of the issue
The size of the issue is hard to fully understand given that many people have not ‘presented themselves as homeless’ to councils. Rather they are just moving from place to place. From the figures below, however, it is clear that homelessness is on the increase.
Official government data showed that on any given night in Autumn 2017, 4,751 people were recorded sleeping on the streets, with London accounting for a quarter, a figure that has more than doubled since 2010.
Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, advised that the actual number is far larger. Its research showed that more than 8,000 people were currently sleeping rough across England. This figure is in addition to c9,000 people sleeping in tents, cars and public transport, the charity warned. Research by Crisis also indicates that c62% of single homeless people are hidden and may not show up in official figures.
In December, Crisis claimed the number of "hidden" rough sleepers will increase 47% to 13,400 over the next decade unless "immediate action" is taken.*
On December 31 last year 78,930 households were in temporary accommodation, up 64% from a figure of 48,010 on the same date in 2010. According to Government figures.**
If we combine the figures of those sleeping rough, those in tents and number of households in temporary accommodation we are, shockingly, at over 100,000 people.
There are several reasons for the increase in homelessness. Spiralling rents, lack of social housing and the cuts to housing benefit have all compounded the problem.
In our next blog we take a more in-depth look in to the issues causing homelessness and what could be done to help.
If you would like to get involved then please donate.
We would like to thank the following charities for their continued work and research:
Shelter, Crisis, Big Issue Foundation, Centre Point, YMCA, Homeless link, Streetlink
*BBC News December 2017
**Metro March 2018