An East London borough has the highest rate of homelessness in England, new research has revealed. As Shelter charity warns of a "bleak start to 2023" for the record numbers of people without a home, Newham has been named as the area of England with the highest rate of homeless.
A staggering one in 21 people are homeless in Newham, according to new research from Shelter. This compares to an average of one in 58 people who are homeless across the whole of London. Westminster had the second highest rate of homelessness, with one in every 27 people homeless, followed by Haringey with one in every 33 people homeless.
Shelter's figures, which the charity described as the 'most comprehensive overview of recorded homelessness in the country', were gathered from official homelessness figures and responses to a Freedom of Information request. Worryingly, Shelter has warned the true figure is likely to be even higher than its statistics show, as some types of homelessness (such as sofa-surfing) go entirely undocumented.
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Phil, 65, has a heart condition and is currently living in his van in Camberley, just south-west of London in Surrey. Phil became homeless after the breakdown of his relationship with his partner of 21 years. He was previously keeping his belongings in storage, but can no longer afford the cost and has had to get rid of everything.
Phil said: “The cold has been the hardest thing about living in the van. I can’t cook anything so I’m mostly living on crap food. I have a McDonald's most days but I’m running out of money for things like that now. I've never been so tight in my life. I’ve got good friends so I can go there and get a shower. I could sofa surf but I’m a 65-year-old man and I don’t want to be a burden.
“I’m ashamed of my life sometimes. They say you should take the ups with the downs in life, but it feels like I’ve had more downs lately. I’d just like somewhere where I could close my door, have a bath, sit down and cook myself something to eat.”
In England, one in 208 people are without a home – that's 271,000 in total, including 123,000 children. Of these, 2,400 people are sleeping rough on any given night, 15,000 people are in hostels or supported accommodation and nearly 250,000 (mostly families) are living in temporary accommodation.
The number of people living in temporary accommodation has risen by a shocking 74 per cent in the last 10 years – a rise that Shelter argues is being driven by the chronic shortage of social homes, and an over-reliance on grossly expensive and unstable private renting.
More than two thirds of families currently in temporary accommodation have been there for over a year, suggesting this type of accommodation is becoming less and less 'temporary' as families cannot escape homelessness due to the severe lack of affordable homes.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The new year should be a time of hope, but this isn’t the case for the 271,000 homeless people who are facing a truly bleak 2023. A cold doorway or a grotty hostel room is not a home, but this is reality for too many people today.
“Our frontline advisers are working tirelessly to help people who are desperate to escape homelessness – from the parents doing all they can to provide some shred of a normal family life while stuck in an emergency B&B, to the person terrified of another night sleeping rough.
“With private rents and living costs continuing to soar, thousands of people are not just facing a winter of worry, they are at risk of losing the roof over their head. At Shelter, we are bracing ourselves for a sharp rise in homelessness in 2023. More than ever, we will be relying on the public’s generosity to help us support and campaign for all those fighting for a safe home.”
To donate to Shelter’s Winter Appeal, visit shelter.org.uk/donate.
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