What causes homelessness?

People become homeless because they can’t find a suitable and affordable home.

Homelessness isn't just sleeping on the streets. It also includes being homeless in temporary accommodation, such as hostels and bed and breakfasts, or sofa-surfing.

Why do people become homeless?

The chronic lack of social housing

You fundamentally can’t solve homelessness without homes.

Across the country, there is a chronic shortage of social rented homes because, for decades, successive governments have failed to build enough. This has left millions of people and countless communities without access to secure and permanent homes at rents they can afford.

A women called Vicky by blue curtains looking forward at the camera

After they were made homeless, Vicky and her children had to move between three hotels and are now living in temporary accommodation. This is because of a lack of social homes.

This is meant to be temporary accommodation but we’re stuck here, as there is nowhere else left to go. Having a decent and stable home is so important to me. Somewhere that can support my children’s health and well-being. We desperately need more investment in genuinely affordable social homes.

Inadequate housing benefit

The main cause of homelessness is not being able to afford a home.

One in three private renters rely on universal credit or housing benefit to help pay their rent.
But real terms cuts to the value of housing benefit have left people struggling to afford a suitable privately rented home. And the household benefit cap is also pushing families towards homelessness.

Insecure privately rented homes

Eviction from a privately rented home is one of the leading triggers of homelessness. Short contracts and ‘no fault’ evictions, as well as unaffordable rents, mean people struggle to keep a roof over their head.

The government has promised to ban section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and the Renters Reform Bill is now going through parliament. We're campaigning to make sure the bill is as strong as possible, so that it gives renters the rights they need.

A man wearing a blue fleece stands outside a block of flats with his arms folded.

Dave and his son were on the brink of homelessness after receiving a ‘no fault’ eviction notice from their landlord.

Getting evicted, you get that sinking feeling. More than anything else, it’s the instability and the not knowing where you’re going to end up.

Discrimination and inequality

It can be harder to compete in the rental market and you can have a greater chance of facing homelessness if you’re:

  • facing discrimination, e.g. because of your ethnicity, sex, gender or disabilities

  • a lone parent

  • a refugee

  • experiencing domestic abuse

  • receiving benefits

  • leaving prison, the care system or the armed forces

Lack of rights

People are often street homeless because they have no rights to access accommodation. Families with children do have rights, which is why they are rarely forced to sleep on the streets.

We believe home is a human right. We must protect it and fight for it.

Whether you’re campaigning with us, donating, or volunteering your time - join the fight.

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More information you may find useful

We're rallying the country to end the housing emergency

What is the housing emergency?

Who is legally homelessness?