Single parent families are bearing the brunt of England’s surge in homelessness

Image: Reuters/Luke MacGregor
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Families with only one parent now account for nearly three-quarters of homeless households in England, says housing charity Shelter, citing government figures. Around 30,000 single parent families were made homeless last year, up 8% from five years ago.

Overall, the number of households that have become homeless and put in temporary accommodation has soared by 64% since 2010. Last year, 78,930 households were in temporary accommodation, up from 48,010 in 2010.  The figure was also 4% higher than last year, when there were 75,740. Housing charities blame a “perfect storm” of rising rents and costs, stagnating wages and cuts to the benefit system.

The number of rough sleepers has also increased. Statistics published by the government in January reveal that an estimated 4,751 people were forced to sleep outside overnight in 2017, a 15% increase on the year before.

When asked to explain why homelessness has increased so significantly in recent years, the UK’s homeless minister said she didn’t know. The minister refused to believe that welfare reforms and council cuts had contributed to the rise.

The housing crisis isn’t limited to the UK. Some 24 million households in Europe are paying too much for housing, nearly 37 million households are overcrowded, and nearly 34 million households live in damp conditions, according to a report on housing exclusion in Europe from Feantsa, the European umbrella organization working with homeless people. The report claims England has experienced the largest rise in rough sleeping in Europe.

The British government says it’s committed to reducing homelessness and rough sleeping and will invest £1.2 billion ($1.7 billion) to address the issue and plan on introducing legislation to tackle the root causes of homelessness.