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Housing

‘Homes not hotels’ needed to help people out of homelessness post-Covid

New statutory homelesness stats showed 68,000 families in England asked councils for help with homelessness despite the eviction ban while 95,000 spent lockdown in temporary accommodation

Homelessness charity bosses have pleaded for a social house-building revolution to prevent long-term homelessness after new statistics showed 95,000 households were stuck in temporary accommodation during the latest lockdown.

The number of people living in hotels, B&Bs and other stopgap accommodation increased by a quarter between January and March this year, new statutory homelessness figures for England revealed, as councils continued to protect rough sleepers through the Everyone In scheme.

While the number of children living in temporary accommodation fell six per cent since March 2020, 119,830 kids were still living in makeshift homes at the end of March 2021.

Sign our petition to #StopMassHomelessness

The statistics prove that UK government calls for councils to “redouble efforts” to protect rough sleepers in January was justified, said Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes. But a longer term homelessness strategy, including funding the Housing First model and more affordable homes, is needed.

“We must remember that living in a cramped B&B is only meant to be temporary and until people are helped into a home of their own, we’ve not finished the job,” said Sparkes.

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“With the financial impact of the pandemic continuing to be felt and protections such as the eviction ban now over, we know that many more people will have been pushed closer to the edge, and face being placed in expensive temporary accommodation to keep them off the streets, unless we drastically change approach.

“Long lasting recovery for everyone is only possible when we start providing homes not hotel rooms.”

Despite the eviction ban in place until May 31, 68,250 new households approached their local council and were found to be homeless or at risk of homelessness in the first three months of the year.

It is a scary sign of the times that even the eviction ban couldn’t stop thousands of families becoming homelessPolly Neate, Shelter chief executive

Polly Neate, Shelter chief executive

The statistics also highlighted the “hidden homelessness” brought about by the pandemic, with people no longer able to stay with families or friends as restrictions tightened.

Shelter analysis found a household became homeless every three minutes and chief executive Polly Neate said the solution to the issue must be a renewed effort to build more social housing.

“It is a scary sign of the times that even the eviction ban couldn’t stop thousands of families becoming homeless in early 2021. Now the ban has lifted far more people could be faced with the brutal reality of homelessness.

“If the country is to stand a chance of recovering from the pandemic, the government must urgently invest in a new generation of quality social housing. Last year we built fewer than 7,000 new social homes. We can and must do better.”

The figures come as The Big Issue launched the Stop Mass Homelessness campaign to prevent thousands of families affected by the pandemic from falling into homelessness. 

Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of losing their homes right now. One UK household is being made homeless every three-and-a-half hours, according to The Big Issue’s analysis.

You can help stop a potential avalanche of homelessness by joining The Big Issue’s Stop Mass Homelessness campaign. Here’s how:

Join the conversation and share your support using the hashtag #StopMassHomelessness

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