Over half of homeless families across England are in work, charity warns

The homelessness crisis in the UK has been highlighted, once again, by charity Shelter.

A FOI request has found that over 33,000 families are holding down a job even though they are in unstable temporary accommodation. Back in 2013 there were 19,000 families in this position. The increase is an astonishing 73 per cent.

One single mother, Mary Smith, has bravely spoken out about how she fell on hard times and ended up in temporary accommodation.

Mary and her three sons, had lived in a private rented property in Watford for 13 years when the landlord evicted them two years ago, forcing them to move into a hostel.

“We were stuck in an absolute hobble of a rat-infested hostel. Food would get stolen. I nearly lost my job when we first became homeless because transport links to work were so bad,” said Ms Smith.

“I feel like we’re in a vicious cycle. We’ve been in properties that are freezing and have mould crawling up the walls. And we’re still uncertain of our future. The boys have gone through a lot. It’s meant they haven’t reached their potential. There’s just no safety net for us,”

“I love my job and have worked there for four and a half years. I’ve just accepted a 40 hour a week temporary to cover the manager, which meant I got a pay rise, but I don’t see any benefit from the salary.

“Higher pay doesn’t seem to make you better off because it just means you get less support. I’ve struggled to put food on the table. As a proud person, I don’t like asking for help, but it’s from the kindness of friends we got through. It’s heartbreaking.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “We cannot allow struggling families to slip through the cracks created by our housing crisis – the government must urgently come up with a new plan for social housing that delivers the genuinely affordable homes we desperately need.

“Our commission on the future of social housing will be calling for bold solutions, because more of the same is simply not good enough”

A Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live and we are providing more than £1.2bn so all those left homeless get the support they need.”

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