It’s essential for a good and healthy life. But currently more than 300,000 people are homeless on any given night in Britain. It’s unacceptable for any of us to be forced into homelessness.
Homelessness is much more than ‘rooflessness’ or lack of physical shelter, it is the lack of a home.
It includes living in unsuitable temporary accommodation in hostels or bed and breakfasts or staying on someone's sofa because there's nowhere else to go.
Homelessness is a social and political issue. It happens because there are not enough good quality, truly affordable homes available for people on the lowest incomes.
The reasons for homelessness include poverty, systemic inequality and discrimination, and incomes that are failing to keep up with rapidly rising rents and the cost of living. All those social issues put immense pressure on people, which can push people into homelessness.
Life events can also be a source of considerable strain. This could be a job loss, domestic abuse in the home or a relationship breakdown. Physical and mental health conditions and substance misuse can also be both a cause or a result of housing insecurity and homelessness.
Some of us face additional pressures because of who we are. When these pressures build, people can be pushed into homelessness.
Eviction from a private rented home is a leading cause of homelessness in England. We all need a safe, decent home. But unfair evictions, rapidly rising rents and short rental contracts make it hard for some of us to keep our home.
And without a stable, affordable home or a welfare system that supports all of us through tough times, the additional sudden pressure of an unexpected life event can pile up. This pressure, alongside the strain of high rents, low wages and the rising cost of living, can force you into homelessness.
Adequate financial support to cover the costs of rent, such as housing benefit, can stop people from being pushed over the edge into homelessness.
Across the country, there’s a chronic shortage of homes for social rent. Successive governments have not built enough social housing.
This leaves people trapped in unaffordable and too often poor-quality homes, with the only options being to stay in unsafe housing, or be forced into homelessness.
A lack of social housing also means an increasing number of people are stuck in unsuitable temporary accommodation, often for months, and sometimes even years, at a time.
We can do better. We can create a secure foundation for a life without homelessness by increasing the supply of truly affordable, decent homes.
When we experience discrimination, rejection or exclusion because of who we are, it is even harder to withstand the pressures that push us into homelessness.
LGBTQ+ people and people of colour are more likely to struggle to find a safe, secure home.
If you are leaving prison, the care system, experiencing domestic abuse, receiving benefits or are a refugee, you are also often at greater risk from homelessness.
When any of us experience homelessness, it hurts us all. We need to redesign our support systems, so that they work for and include everyone in society.