Shelter warns of 'crisis' as more than 250,000 have no permanent home

More than a quarter of a million people in England are homeless, according to analysis from Shelter.

The charity, releasing figures to mark its 50th anniversary on Thursday, calculated that there are almost 255,000 people with no permanent home across the country.

Shelter's homelessness figures include the numbers of people living in hostels and other types of temporary accommodation, as well as those sleeping rough on England's streets.  

It said homelessness "hotspots" across England can be found in Brighton, Birmingham, Slough, Bristol, Coventry, Reading and Manchester, as well as in parts of London.

In Brighton and Hove, one in 69 people are homeless, according to Shelter's estimates. This figure was calculated from the charity's findings that 78 people were sleeping rough in Brighton and Hove and a further 4,017 were living in temporary accommodation, making a total of 4,095. 

In Birmingham, Shelter calculated that one in 119 people have no permanent home. Shelter found that in Birmingham, 9,524 people were living in temporary accommodation and another 36 were rough sleeping, making the total number of people it categorised as homeless 9,560.

Shelter said in Westminster in central London, one in 25 has no permanent home, making this area England's top homelessness hotspot.

In Westminster, it found that 7,794 people were living in temporary accommodation and another 265 were sleeping rough, making a total of 8,059 people without a permanent home. 

A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spokesman said of Shelter's findings: "We do not recognise these figures.

"The actual level of homelessness is less than half the 2003 peak. However, we know that one person without a home is one too many.

"That is why the Government is investing over £500 million during the course of this parliament to tackle homelessness. This includes protecting £315 million for local authority homelessness prevention funding, and £149 million central government funding."

The findings were calculated by Shelter after looking at figures from sources including government data and information from social services obtained following a freedom of information request.  

Children and adults were included in the calculations, which Shelter described as conservative. The findings did not include "hidden" homelessness, such as people staying with friends.

Shelter's chief executive Campbell Robb said: "Shelter's founding shone a light on hidden homelessness in the sixties slums. But while those troubled times have faded into memory, 50 years on, a modern-day housing crisis is tightening its grip on our country.

"We all face the consequences when so many in our country grow up without a place to call home. It breaks up communities and wreaks havoc on family life.

"For the sake of future generations, we must pull together to end this crisis and refuse to rest until every child has a place to call home."

Shelter highlighted the case of a woman named Mandie who was renting a flat in Luton with her two daughters, but after being made redundant, she fell behind on the rent and was evicted.

She said: "We stayed in a hotel for months and now we're in temporary accommodation. I don't know where we'll end up next, or when we'll be able to have a home to call our own.

"This year, my daughters agreed to cancel Christmas. They're normally hyped about it, but I think they're trying to take the pressure off me. The only thing they asked for was whether we could still have a turkey dinner."

Shelter's co-founder Des Wilson said: "It would be pleasing if Shelter were able to take time to celebrate its 50th year, but, as this report shows, it is too aware of what still has to be done.

"I hope the country will respond to its urgent rallying call with the same combination of anger and compassion with which it supported our work all those years ago."

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