Not Home: The lives of hidden homeless households in unsupported temporary accommodation in England

Over the past 12 months, Justlife and IPPR North have been researching the lives of hidden homeless households in England’s unsupported temporary accommodation. A report launched today introduces the state of the situation and an initial set of research findings to the wider public… 

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Official figures only identify a fraction of homeless households living in ‘unsupported temporary accommodation’, according to this new report from the IPPR North.

The report says the national figures do not include all people living in temporary accommodation if no legal duty applies to them and that the figures do not include those who self-refer into unsupported temporary accommodation or who are referred by agencies and services other than local authorities.

The report highlights that is almost impossible to estimate the exact number of households that but that Britain faces a hidden homelessness problem leading to people not getting local authority support to find a permanent place to live. The report says a lack of other options means too many are driven towards what it calls “the weakest corners of the housing market,” living in Bed & Breakfasts and Houses in Multiple Occupation, with little support to help them into a secure and settled place to live. It is stated that the housing conditions and the social environments they foster are “typically dreadful”.

From an initial set of journal entries, interviews and focus groups with 35 individuals and research participants in South East and North West England, a wide range of serious problems relating to their accommodation were identified:

19 people had no lock on their door or the lock was broken.

15 people had been a victim of crime whilst living in temporary accommodation, and 24 had witnessed or experienced violence.

28 felt that others living in their temporary accommodation were a bad influence and tried not to associate with them. Consequently, and unsurprisingly, 22 felt isolated.

30 participants reported that their health had been affected by the damp and poorly maintained conditions of temporary accommodation and in addition 22 felt that the food given or cooking facilities available were inadequate for a healthy diet.

All participants commented on drug use and excessive drinking in their residences, and where applicable that their own increased drug or alcohol use, or that of others, affected their lives.

Bill Davies, IPPR North Research Fellow, said: “There is very little good statistical data for the hidden homeless. Limited research has been conducted about them and their precarious lives go largely unrecorded by research organisations or public authorities. As a hidden population, their numbers are difficult to estimate but the scale of the problem is substantial.”  

To download the full report, click here: Not Home

To read the Just Thinking blog, which tracks the progress of the research, click here: Just Thinking