What causes homelessness in the UK?

by | Feb 24, 2022 | Home

There are many ways people can find themselves homeless in the UK.

In some cases, it can be because of personal circumstances and in others it is the result of taking the wrong path in life.

However, once it happens it can be hard to get back on track.

Statistics show that the number of homeless in the UK has actually decreased over the past couple of years.

This is in part due to the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative to invite people off the streets during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Crisis estimated that in 2021 around 227,000 people were without their own home.[AS1] 

That figure includes rough sleepers, and also those bedding down in vans and sheds as well as stuck in B&Bs.

As we get back to near normal, it is feared that the number of homeless people in the UK is set to rise.

10 reasons why homelessness happens

  1. Eviction

People may be evicted from their home for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they can’t afford to pay their rent – a situation even more likely with the anticipated cost of living hike. They might have lost their job as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic, or been evicted unfairly, or their short-term contract may have ended.

  1. Unemployment

While low wages contribute to homelessness, unemployment is also a significant factor. Reasons for unemployment vary and some areas have higher rates than others. Once a person is unemployed for a time, they can easily slip into homelessness.

  1. Homes shortage

A shortage of affordable housing means people are finding it increasingly difficult to find somewhere to rent.

The UK just doesn’t have enough social housing, and this has left millions without access to secure, long-term homes with affordable rents.

Many private landlords demand deposits of thousands of pounds, cash which many people on low incomes cannot achieve.

That is why more schemes such as Centrepoint’s initiative to build affordable homes specifically tailored to meet the needs of young homeless people are being seen as a way forward.

  1. Relationship breakdown

The breakdown of a relationship can have terrible consequences, not least the effect of someone losing their home.

Housing rights depend on the legal status of a relationship, whether there are children involved and whether, if unmarried, they are co-owners of the property.

If someone has no housing rights, homelessness could be the result.

  1. Mental health problems

The onset of mental illness can trigger, or be part of, a series of events that can lead to homelessness. Additionally, mental health issues might be exacerbated or caused by the stresses associated with being homeless.

  1. Addiction

Drug and alcohol misuse can cause people to become homeless, while some people find themselves becoming addicted as a way of dealing with life on the streets.

Whatever the situation, it is recognised that treating homeless people for drug misuse is exceptionally difficult unless their housing needs are addressed at the same time,

  1. Leaving the armed forces

People who leave the armed forces can find themselves without structure in their civilian lives.

They may be suffering physically or mentally, and unable to settle down and find work.

  1. Discrimination

People of colour or LGBTQ+ have been found to be more likely to struggle to find a safe, stable home.

  1. Sexual or physical abuse

Women and children are especially vulnerable to violence-triggered homelessness.

To escape domestic violence, people will flee their homes without a plan.

It has also been found that many homeless young people leave home after years of physical and sexual abuse, strained relationships, addiction of a family member, and parental neglect.

  1. Systemic failures

It isn’t just a person’s or family’s circumstances that can cause homelessness, but also failures in the system.

Basically, this is when society fails to identify someone at risk of homelessness.

Systemic failures include things like lack of affordable housing, lack of support for those leaving the care system or prison, or those suffering ill health.

People leaving prison can be at risk of homelessness and the lack of support they receive in the outside world can eventually cause them to reoffend.

Meanwhile, refugees leaving Home Office accommodation may not have sufficient funds to secure private rented housing without additional help.

Because asylum seekers are not permitted to work, saving for a deposit may act as a barrier.

Processing benefit applications can take longer than 28 days.

Furthermore, it can take time to receive a National Insurance number – this can delay entry to the workforce.

These factors can put refugees at risk of homelessness.

Read through our useful guide for more information

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