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“Growing Homelessness Crisis: More Working People Trapped in England”

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“Special report on the latest shocking rise in homelessness even among those in active employment. New figures out today show one in four of the households in England becoming homeless last year had at least one person in work. It is something that affected or at least threatened almost 73,000 households where someone had a full or part-time job at the end of 2022.

Homelessness among full-time workers had increased by 22 percent compared to the same period two years ago. London had the highest number of people suffering in-work homelessness, followed by the Southeast of England and the Northwest. And as our investigations correspondent Daniel Hewitt had, the desperate search for affordable accommodation can feel both wearing and embarrassing.

“How does it feel to do this every single day?”

“It’s absolutely draining and exhausting and tedious,” Nicole Williams wakes up every day not knowing where she will sleep at the end of it. “I literally search the internet to see what I can find for the day that I need it for and the prices.” Perched on a single bed in a tiny hotel room, she tries to find another for tonight, all before her working day begins.

“It’s quite embarrassing at the same time, like having to literally figure out what your life is going to entail for the day from the start of the morning that I wake up to when I close my eyes at night.”

Nicole works full-time as a personal assistant in West London. Four weeks ago, her landlord took back the property she was renting, but she assumed she’d find somewhere else. “My belongings, who knows where the destination is for this evening?”

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But private rents have rocketed, competition for homes is fierce, and the local Council says they’ve no properties for her. “Tuesday evening, just got back from work, managed to rebook in the same B&B as a student last night.

So Nicole’s move from Bed and Breakfast to hotel to friend’s sofas, homeless with nowhere to go. ‘But you’re off to work now?’ ‘I’m off to work, yeah.’ ‘The fact that I’m working and I’m earning a living, that’s just crazy to me. That I’ve got the funds there to look after myself and maintain myself, it means nothing. I just want to live like a normal person, like a normal adult, go about my normal adult life.'”

Nicole says she’s contacted 15 private landlords but has been outbid or ignored. “It’s now time for work, and the search will have to wait until later.

The government often says that the best route out of homelessness, out of poverty, is getting a job, working. What then would they say to Nicole? She’s proof that increasingly that is not enough. That the chronic shortage of affordable homes means that working full-time on a modest income, you can still find yourself with nowhere to live.”

In Colchester, Lisa and her family are having to live in this modified Caravan. They moved here temporarily when their privately rented flat became too expensive.

“They went to the council, who said there’s a four-year wait on three-bedroom properties.” But they’ve now been here over three years. Their ten-year-old son sleeps in this tiny room in a bed made for a toddler. “But they just can’t secure anywhere affordable, despite Lisa working part-time and her husband Lee working full-time.”

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The government told us it’s giving councils £1 billion over the next three years to prevent homelessness, and local authorities have a duty to provide families with temporary accommodation when needed. Campaigners, though, say they need to do much more. “The first measure they need to do is to operate housing benefits so that it’s in line with what rents actually are for people, so that people

can pay. That’s a really short-term measure, but it’s really vital. They need to protect people from eviction so they’re not permanently being turfed out just because the landlord wants to raise the rent.”

“Hey, Nicole, how are you doing back in West London?

How was work?” Nicole is checking into yet another hotel. “How much longer do you think you can do this for? Mentally and financially?” “A couple of months either way. Something’s gotta give.”

In work but soon out in the cold, the victim of a crisis not of her making. Dan, we’re just hearing so much about it, aren’t we? Now that finding affordable homes is becoming increasingly difficult for so many. Is there any help on the way at all? “Well, the government has promised for years to reform the private rental sector. One of its big promises is to scrap no-fault evictions, to stop the kind of issues we’ve seen there.

It promised this week to bring forward its long-awaited Renters Reform Bill. That is not going to happen now. This week, I understand ministers are trying to bring it forward to next week or perhaps the week after. It’s a procedural problem, we’re told, but it’s just so frustrating for renters like Nicole and Lisa and Lee who have been waiting for so many years.”

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“What that bill won’t do, though, is build more homes. That is what is needed here. That’s what everyone agrees needs to happen, including the government. 30 years ago, it’s kind of unthinkable that someone working full-time would be unable to afford their own home. We are now talking about people working full-time who can’t even rent a home. That is the extent of this crisis, and it is a crisis.”

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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