There is a serious shortage of affordable housing in Britain and in particular social housing.
In England around 1.75 million households are on the social housing waiting lists. As the demand for social housing in England has increased, so the supply has withered - there has been a drop of 1.7 million in the total number of social homes, from 5.5 million in 1981 to 3.8 million in 2009-10.
Because of the strict rationing system, many people without dependent children cannot access social housing.
Owner occupation is also often out of reach for people on low incomes as it can be far from affordable.
The private rented sector
The private rented sector (PRS) can often be the only real housing option for many single homeless people. However, there are still barriers to finding suitable, long tem, affordable properties.
One of the ways of overcoming some of these barriers has been the development of PRS access schemes, such as deposit guarantee schemes and local letting agencies. These help people who are in receipt of benefits or on low incomes to access PRS accommodation by offering landlords guarantees and other incentives and by assisting clients with property searches, benefit claims and support. They might also then provide support to tenants after they've moved in, to help ensure that their tenancies are sustained.
Since 1997 Crisis has been working with partners across the UK to enhance access to the PRS for single people. Today, Crisis work includes running a National Advisory Service for the use of the PRS to house homeless and vulnerable people, a best practice website (www.privaterentedsector.org.uk) and a DCLG funding programme for PRS access schemes in England.
 DCLG (2010) Table 600 Rents, lettings and tenancies: numbers of households on local authorities' housing waiting lists, by district: England 1997-2010 (accessed 19/05/2011)
 DCLG (2011) English Housing Survey Headline Report 2009-10