London party

Two-thirds of London’s ‘hidden homeless’ are women, study finds

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Almost two-thirds of homeless Londoners living in temporary accommodation are women, according to new figures from London Councils.

Analysis by the cross-party group, which represents London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London, found that there were almost twice as many women affected by ‘hidden homelessness’ in the capital as men.

A total of 42,000 temporary occupants in London are adult women, while 21,700 are adult men. This means that women make up 65% of all temporary housing occupants in the capital.

Darren Rodwell, executive member of the London Housing Councils, said the specific challenges faced by homeless women are “too often overlooked”.

He said: “We are extremely concerned about the number of women who are left homeless and in need of temporary accommodation in the capital.

“London continues to suffer from the highest homelessness rates in the country – particularly in terms of hidden homelessness identified by temporary accommodation figures. More needs to be done to understand the particularly severe impact on London women and help them avoid homelessness.

While women make up the majority of homeless Londoners in temporary accommodation, they made up just 16% of rough sleepers seen in London in 2020/21.

Polly Neate, chief executive of the homeless and housing charity Shelter, said it was because parents with children had legal protections which meant councils had to provide accommodation, although she said “living in an emergency hostel is a far cry from having a safe home”.

Around 39% of homeless households living in temporary accommodation in London are headed by single mothers, according to analysis by London Councils.

Unaffordable housing costs are one of the main factors that can lead to someone being placed in temporary accommodation, and Ms Neate said women “bear the brunt of our growing housing urgency”.

Shelter research found that women are 36% more likely to be behind on housing costs than men.

Ms Neate said: ‘Now the cost of living crisis, in addition to housing benefit cuts and gender-biased policies like the benefit cap, means it’s only going to get harder for many women who are struggling. barely cling to their house. Every day our emergency helpline receives calls from mothers who don’t know how they are going to put food on the table or pay their rent at the end of the month. Although we know that other women think they have no choice but to stay with an abuser in an effort to keep a roof over their heads.

She called on the government to reverse ‘harmful’ welfare cuts, but said the only way to eradicate homelessness for good is ‘to build good quality social housing with rents linked to local wages that people can really afford”.

Sian Berry, who chairs the London Assembly’s housing committee, said it was “very concerning” to see there are so many women in temporary accommodation in London.

She said: “We know that homelessness can affect women more seriously and how they can find themselves in vulnerable situations, such as fleeing domestic violence or having to care for children on their own, and more needs to be done to help. “

Ms Berry called on the Mayor of London to lead a ‘joint strategy’ across local services ‘so women don’t feel left out’.

Although the Mayor of London does not have responsibility for providing temporary accommodation, the City Hall supports two pan-London initiatives which aim to improve the quality of temporary accommodation and reduce the number of people placed outside their borough. origin.

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “Entrened inequalities mean that women are more likely than men to experience domestic violence and poverty. Consequently, they are more likely to have difficulty affording housing that meets their needs.

“The Mayor has made it his personal priority to tackle rough sleep and ensure London is safe for women. While rough sleeping has more than doubled under the former mayor, it has halved in the past three years under Sadiq’s leadership and work began last year on more new social housing in London than at any time since the 1970s.

“Now it is essential that the work started by the town hall before and during the pandemic is not wasted, but this requires sustained and substantial resources from the government as well as policy changes to address the root causes. “