More than half of homeless families across England are employed but soaring rent and a lack of social housing is pushing more households into temporary accommodation, a new report by a British charity group has warned.
Data obtained by Shelter, a charity that campaigns to end homelessness and bad housing in Britain, shows that more than 33,000 families in temporary accommodation have a job, a growth of 73 percent since 2013, when it was 19,000 families.
Shelter analyzed official government data on temporary housing, benefits and employment as well as conducting a tenant survey.
The charity blames high private-sector rents, the ongoing freeze in housing benefits, unstable tenancies and the shortage of social housing.
The shortage of suitable affordable homes meant homeless households were often placed in cheap hotels, hostels, or large houses with a family in each bedroom, Shelter 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,” said Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate.
The homeless households typically work in low-wage, part-time or contract jobs and cannot afford to pay rent.
The phenomenon of working families – including nurses, taxi drivers, council workers and hospitality staff – finding themselves homeless was highlighted last year by Michael King, the local government ombudsman, a service that investigates complaints from the public about social care and public services.
“Increasingly, [homeless people] are normal families who would not have expected to be in this situation,” said King.
The largest increases in homeless working families were seen in the East Midlands, the West Midlands, and the North West, reflecting the growth of the housing crisis beyond traditional high-rent areas such as the capital London.
“We were stuck in an absolute hobble of a rat-infested hostel. Food would get stolen. I nearly lost my job when we first became homeless because transport links to work were so bad,” Mary Smith told The Independent.
Smith, 47, a single mother with three sons who works full-time in a shoe shop, became homeless after being evicted by their landlord. She said her family has been stuck in a “vicious cycle” of unstable temporary accommodation for two years.
A UK parliamentary committee has warned last year that Homelessness in England is a "national crisis," with more than 120,000 homeless children living in emergency accommodation.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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