Shelter report big rise in number of ‘working homeless’ families

More than half of homeless families in temporary accommodation are in work, figures show.

Some 55% of families are holding down a job despite having nowhere stable to live, research by Shelter’s social housing commission has found.

It estimated that there are currently around 33,000 “working homeless”, which has risen from 19,000 in 2013.

The homeless charity analysed official Government data on temporary housing, benefits and employment and conducted a tenant survey.

Shelter said the increase has been caused by “a combination of expensive private rents, the ongoing freeze on housing benefit and a chronic lack of social homes”.

Mary Smith lives in temporary accommodation in Watford with her three sons.

The 47-year-old, who works full time in a shoe shop, said they became homeless after being evicted by their landlord and can not afford to rent privately.

She said: “I nearly lost my job when I first became homeless because the transport links from my hostel were so bad.

“We’ve lived in three different temporary places in two years, and it’s been really tough on the children.

“We don’t want a palace, we just want a place that we can call home.”

Shelter said that high housing costs are a major area of concern for many working families and that losing a tenancy accounts for 27% of households accepted as homeless in the last year.

CEO Polly Neate said: “It’s disgraceful that even when families are working every hour they can, they’re still forced to live through the grim reality of homelessness.

“In many cases, these are parents who work all day or night before returning to a cramped hostel or B&B where their whole family is forced to share a room.

“A room with no space for normal family life like cooking, playing or doing homework.”

She called on the Government to “urgently come up with a new plan for social housing that delivers the genuinely affordable homes we desperately need”.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said priority for temporary housing is given to families with children.

He added: “Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live and we are providing more than £1.2bn so all those left homeless get the support they need.

“So families can get a permanent home, we are investing £9bn in affordable properties, including £2bn for social rent housing.”

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