New research from YouGov reveals that almost half of UK residents believe that homelessness has risen in their local area – up from just 26% in 2013.
Earlier research carried out in December 2017 confirms their beliefs are correct, with official figures showing that homelessness among people with mental and physical health problems has increased by around 75% since 2010, and there has been a similar rise in the number of families with dependent children who are classed as homeless.
Back in February, the Evening Standard reported that record numbers of rough sleepers were referred to a specialist helpline by the public as “overstretched” charities struggled to cope with unprecedented demand as a big freeze gripped the UK – and people are noticing the problem.
New YouGov research reveals that almost half of Brits (47%) think there are more homeless people in their local area than there were ten years ago. When YouGov previously asked this question in October 2013, the figure was only 26%.
A further 28% of people feel that there are about the same number of homeless people in their local area than there were a decade ago (compared to 40% in 2013), while only 3% believe there are fewer (7% in 2013). The remaining 22% say they don’t know.
How Homelessness affects other areas of life
Homelessness is not just a housing problem. Not having a decent home adversely affects all areas of your life – from your health, to your achievement at school if you are a child, and your ability to get work if you are an adult. Conversely, if you are struggling with your health or your employment, this may in turn affect your housing needs and the security of your home.
New research released in the USA today reveals that being homeless has a major impact on cardiovascular health and outcomes.
Why do people become homeless?
People end up homeless for a wide variety of reasons, according to charity Shelter:
- When relationships break down, often one person is forced to move out without anywhere to go.
- Private tenancies frequently last only for six months or a year, and when they come to an end people may face homelessness due to a lack of other affordable options.
- When faced with an abusive home life, many children decide to run away.
- After a reduction in or loss of income due to health reasons or unemployment, or a sharp rise in interest rates, a person may find themselves unable to keep up mortgage repayments. Some people on low incomes who rely on housing benefit to pay their rent can face eviction because of errors and delays in the benefit being paid.
How do Brits believe people become homeless?
When asked how they believe people become homeless, the public’s most common view (at 43%) is that most people who end up homeless do so because of circumstances beyond their control. This view is most commonly held by Labour (55%) and Lib Dem voters (53%), as well as women (49%).
By contrast, about a quarter of Brits (27%) seem to think that most homeless people have probably made bad choices in life that have got them into their situation. Conservative voters (36%) and men (33%) are the most likely to hold this view.
A further 16% agreed with neither of these sentiments, while the remaining 14% answered “don’t know”.
Every homeless person’s situation is unique and complex – but Shelter believes that one of the main underlying causes of homelessness in England is a lack of affordable housing. That’s definitely something for those of us in the property market to think about.