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31 May 2024

Homelessness is one of the most pressing issues facing the country. 

Its most visible form, rough sleeping, is on the rise, but the problem goes much deeper. For every person that you see sleeping on the streets, there are dozens more without a safe and secure place to stay - who you will never see. Most are in temporary accommodation, lacking security and often without the most basic facilities.

This is the case for about 1 in every 50 Londoners, and for a shocking 85,000 children in London. Many others are sleeping on buses, couch surfing or forced to stay with an abusive partner for fear of homelessness. 

The lives of hundreds of thousands of people are being affected by homelessness. The effect of spending significant time with nowhere to call home, or living in fear of losing your home is frightening and traumatising. 

Having somewhere to call home is not a privilege. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home and access to support when that home is lost. 

Thousands of people turn to our caseworkers for practical support and personal advocacy, which we provide to help guests build a route out of homelessness.  

Over the last year, we’ve offered 542 people emergency shelter and helped more than 350 people move from homelessness to secure housing. Additionally, we helped hundreds access healthcare services, immigration support or assistance to navigate complex and bureaucratic homelessness processes, as well as advocating on behalf of guests to prevent an eviction.

Our experience on the front-line gives us clear insights into where changes are needed most, and where political energy must be focused.  

  • Lack of Safe Affordable Homes - A broken rental market, lack of social housing and limited protection for renters in London, make it impossible for many of our guests to find somewhere to live. Evictions continue to be a leading cause of homelessness, and the lack of safe & affordable housing in London is at crisis point. Action to address this growing problem has been promised for years but solutions have not been delivered.

  • Women Experiencing Homelessness - Close to one-third of our casework guests are women, a much higher proportion than most official stats would suggest. There is more and more evidence that women’s homelessness is undercounted, and that the specific challenges faced by women experiencing homelessness, are not taken into account or being addressed. It is vital that policy-makers recognise and respond to this. 

  • Under-35s - The number of people under the age 18-34 needing our services is increasing steadily. People in this age group are disadvantaged in several ways, including having a lower entitlement to housing benefits and thus finding it impossible to secure housing they can afford. For those without a support network, there is a strong danger of becoming homeless.

Without drastic action, things will continue to get worse. We need politicians of all parties to face up to the reality of the problem and take the necessary steps to end homelessness once and for all. 

Every week leading up to the election we will dive deeper into the issues we are experiencing on the front-line – sharing insight & data. We’ll offer what we believe are real solutions that the next government can implement to better support everyone who is experiencing the nightmare of homelessness.