Over 1 in 3 homeless families in London stuck in temporary housing for more than 2 years

7 August 2014

Forgotten homeless families

Thousands of families across the capital are stuck in housing limbo for years on end, a Shelter investigation revealed today.

Figures gathered from freedom of information requests show that over half of homeless families in participating boroughs have been in temporary accommodation for more than a year. Over 4,000, or 41%, have been there for two years or more.

Worryingly, research from the Ministry of Justice today shows a significant rise in evictions across the country, with possession claims from landlords rising almost 10% – meaning even more families risk being forgotten in temporary housing.

With a major shortage of affordable homes in the capital, London councils are struggling to find suitable housing for homeless families in need of support. The result is that, for too many families, this kind of housing ends up being anything but temporary.

Louise and her four children were made homeless after her marriage broke down and the family home was repossessed. They have spent over a year in temporary accommodation, including four months in just one room of a run-down B&B.

Louise said: ‘We had to share the kitchen and toilets with other residents, and they were always filthy. I was constantly cleaning so that the children wouldn’t have to see what a mess they were, but at night we were all too scared to use the toilets anyway because there were groups of men hanging around the corridors and it was really intimidating.

‘Luckily we got in touch with Shelter and they were incredible. They helped us find more suitable temporary accommodation that feels much more like a home. We’re still in limbo though, because like with all temporary accommodation, we can’t stay here forever.’

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: ‘It’s appalling that in one of the wealthiest cities in the world there are forgotten homeless children, hidden from view in temporary accommodation that offers them no stability and that can be unsafe and in poor condition.

‘And sadly, with more people struggling to make ends meet, we’re bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help.’