Homeless Brum

Solutions Based Reporting to Tackle Homelessness In The City

Homelessness types and causes: All you need to know

Although a simple word used by society to describe someone living on the street, the types and causes of being homeless are of varied complications.

Here’s everything you need to know about the types and causes of homelessness in the city.

Are there different types of homelessness?

The charity ‘Crisis’, one of the major charities in the UK tackling homelessness categorises the issue into 4 types as statutory homelessness, rough sleeping, residing in temporary accommodation and hidden homelessness.

Statutory homelessness, according to the ministry of housing is the name given to the households who are at risk of being homeless without having another permanent accommodation.

“A household is considered statutorily homeless if they do not have a legal right to occupy accommodation that is accessible, physically available and which would be reasonable for the household to continue to live in, as well as households who currently have the right to occupy suitable accommodation, but that are threatened with homelessness within 56 days.”

The local authority has a duty to find accommodation and house people who falls to this category.

Rough sleeping is identified as people living on the streets without permanent or temporary accommodation. According to the ministry of housing statistics, there were 2688 rough sleepers in England on a single autumn night. Birmingham recorded 17 people living rough, although experts say the way these statistics are recorded are appalling.

Residents in temporary accommodation relates to people living in night/winter shelters, hotels, B & Bs, woman’s refuges and private and social housing. The length each temporary accommodation provides varies from each other along with its rules.

Sam Burgum

The latest statistics from 2020 reveal the total number of households in temporary accommodation in England was 93,490. This was a rise of 7.0% from 87,390 on September 2019.

Hidden homelessness is identified as the people who don’t approach the council and deals with homelessness informally. These include living with family and friends, sofa surfing, living in unsuitable housing, or squatting.

According to Sam Burgum, researcher of squatting, housing and urban movements at Birmingham City University, statistics are very hard to find because of not having a proper way of identifying this category.

“These people are very hidden and vulnerable. So there is no proper way to recognise and record people who sofa surf. Most of the people who does this are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking or refused asylum seekers who are unable to get support from anywhere,” Sam said.

Causes of homelessness

The latest report published by the house of commons library records the main causes of homelessness as a lack of housing supply, a crisis of affordability and personal factors

The report goes on to say the affordability of home ownership has been impacted by tighter mortgage regulation and the requirement for higher deposits from first-time buyers. Even in areas where house prices are relatively affordable, mortgage regulation can act as a barrier.

Research commissioned by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and Crisis from Heriot-Watt University (2018), identified a need for 340,000 homes each year to 2031 of which “145,000 must be affordable.” Of the 145,000, the research concluded that 90,000 “should be for social rent.”

The report also acknowledges family breakdown as a significant immediate cause of homelessness.

“This includes family or friends no longer being able to provide accommodation and fleeing domestic abuse. The circumstances in which families become homeless tend to differ from those of single homeless individuals, with the latter experiencing more chaotic lifestyles”

However, according to Sam the causes of a person being homelessness is varied and overlaps with issues of race, LGBTQ rights, and immigration.

“A lot of people who are young and homeless are mostly people who have come out to their families as being gay or transsexual and were kicked out from their homes. So it’s a gay issue. It is also a feminist issue in the case of women being abused by their partners. It becomes a race issue because of migration,” he said.

What can we do?

The best way to approach this problem in the short run is to encourage individual activism and raise awareness while helping the local charities in Birmingham.

“Donating to the local foodbanks, volunteering with charities when it’s safe to do so and helping rough sleepers on the streets can go a long way. Many people ignore the rough sleepers and only a handful tends to their needs and calls for help whenever it’s needed.

“In the longer term we need through recognise that there is a housing crisis and solving that would be the only practical way of dealing with this issue. Not just more houses, but social houses that are both accessible and cheap,” Sam mentioned.

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