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The Rising Crisis of Homelessness in England

The Escalating Homelessness Crisis in England

Life in England isn’t rosy for everyone, chiefly due to crippling housing shortages, steep rents, and stagnant wages. The situation is so dire that many individuals have been compelled to abandon their homes, often finding themselves living on the streets. It’s a complex subject, but let’s dive in.

Increasing Rates of Homelessness

“Homelessness is soaring in England, and it seems set to worsen,” underscores Carin Tunåker, a researcher with a keen interest in English homelessness, based at the University of Kent. Statistics suggest that this crisis has ballooned significantly over the past decade, primarily in England.

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Carin shares stories from her work, shedding light on the grim reality. Among these are tales of a 60-year-old man, who, unable to work due to injury, could no longer maintain his lifestyle, and a 17-year-old boy chased from home because of his sexuality. Both now live without roofs over their heads.

An Uphill Battle Against Savage Inflation

Inflation in the UK reached a peak of 11.1% in October 2022 – the highest in 41 years, with a shocking 26% increase in individuals sleeping rough, according to the government’s data. Furthermore, homelessness in rural areas has seen a spike of 40% over five years.

“The countryside seems safer. Cities, rife with violence, crime, and drug use, are daunting. However, the rural homeless risk going uncounted in official homelessness statistics,” Tunåker warns.

Largely, homeless individuals are British, with only a fraction from other countries. While help is available, the criteria can be insurmountable. Approximately just 16% met the requirements in late 2023.

Mental Health: A Key Contributor

Bad finances aside, mental health issues often haunt the homeless. Carin Tunåker recounts, “Homelessness might be associated with beggars having drug and alcohol problems. Nowadays, it’s a different thing and it could afflict anyone.”

She is convinced that the situation will aggravate unless the housing crisis is tackled, and social care is prioritized. “The shortage of social care has evidently led to the vast homelessness crisis today,” she adds.

Final Words

“Rough sleeping” in the UK refers to individuals who sleep outdoors or in tents. The broader term “homelessness” also includes those living in temporary shelters or staying with friends and acquaintances without a home of their own. As of 2022, men above the age of 26 make up the majority of those sleeping rough, aided by a 26% increase (626 people) between 2021 and 2022. London saw the most dramatic increase, with 858 people sleeping rough as opposed to 640 the previous year, marking a 34% rise (218 individuals).

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