Hidden homelessness

The Government's headline homelessness statistics are focused on those owed the main homelessness duty and entitled to accommodation.

However, the vast majority of homeless people exist out of sight in bed and breakfasts, squats, on the floors or sofas of friends and families or sleeping rough. This means that they are all too often invisible to the public and so, despite meeting the legal definition of homelessness, are often not regarded as a priority for decision makers.

How many hidden homeless are there?

Research for Crisis "The hidden truth about homelessness: Experiences of hidden homelessness in England" found that the majority of homeless people are hidden - that is living outside mainstream homelessness accommodation (such as hostels).

  • 62 per cent of those surveyed were hidden homeless on the day they were interviewed and 92 per cent had experienced hidden homelessness.
  • For every month that the respondents collectively spent in formal homelessness provision they had spent over three months sleeping rough, in squats, with friends or in other hidden situations.[1]

By its very nature therefore, it is extremely difficult to accurately estimate the size of the homeless population. So perhaps the most accurate statement might be to say that there are countless thousands of hidden homeless people throughout Britain.

 Read about Chris and his experience of hidden homelessness.


[1] Crisis (2011) The Hidden Truth About Homelessness

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