February 3, 2023

One in 100 children is homeless and lives in temporary shelter where many share beds with relatives, according to a charity.

Municipalities provide temporary housing to eligible families who become homeless and can take the form of emergency hostels, bed and breakfasts, and single rooms.

Some 120,710 children in England were homeless and living in temporary shelters between April and June, according to the latest available government figures.

This equates to one in 100 children nationwide, said housing organization Shelter.

The charity believes the number has likely grown over the past six months and will continue to rise as the cost of living crisis deepens.

Shelter said the housing emergency is “robbing children of a safe childhood”.

The charity spoke to 833 families with a total of 1,616 children living in temporary shelter.

The study found that 45% of children living in transitional housing arrived at school tired, late or hungry due to their housing situation.

Just over a quarter of parents (26%) said their children were often unhappy or depressed as a result of living in transitional housing.

A similar number – 28% – said their children find it difficult to make or keep friends.

Shelter said this could be due to children being embarrassed about where they live or not being able to have friends to play with due to a lack of space or rules for visitors.

The survey, funded by Trust for London and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, also found that 35% of parents in temporary accommodation said their children do not have their own bed and are forced to share it with another family member.

About 61% said their children have no room to play in their temporary shelter.

Living in a ‘between house’

Lily, whose full name has not been released to protect her identity, and her three children were placed in a single room in a hostel next to people who had just left prison.

She told Sky News: “It was scary, there was a lot of fighting.”

The hostel had “half-house rules,” she said, from a smoking and drinking ban to restrictions on the number of toilet rolls provided at a time.

It was “dehumanizing,” she said, but they had to be careful: “Had we been kicked out, it would have been seen as intentionally homeless.”

Lily told Sky News she has been working hard to protect her children – a 10-year-old girl and two older teenagers – from the reality of the situation.

She said she “made it a bit of a game”, but “they noticed we didn’t have a house”.

Doing homework in the bathroom

Channah, 47, is a full-time social worker and has been living in an emergency bed and breakfast with her three children since she became a Section 21 no fault eviction notice.

Now “home” for the family of four is a small room with a bunk bed and kitchenette next to the bed.

Her 16-year-old daughter is in the bathroom studying for her GCSEs “because there’s literally no room when we’re all here”.

“All of her work is online and we don’t have access to the internet.

“She has just taken her mock exams and the results will determine which sixth form class she can apply to.

“It breaks my heart to see her struggle to get to college.”

Read more:
Municipalities pay millions more for temporary housing
Nearly a million private tenants in England are threatened with eviction

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Eviction mother and son ‘nightmare’

‘Something went very wrong’

Shelter CEO Polly Neate said: “A horrible hostel or B&B is not a home, but this is where thousands of homeless children are forced to live.

“And many more children will become homeless because their parents can no longer afford to keep a roof over their heads. The housing shortage robs children of a safe childhood.

“Thousands of homeless children come to school too tired to learn – not surprising when one in three has to share a bed.

“Something has gone terribly wrong when children can’t play because their temporary shelter is too cramped even for toys and friends aren’t allowed to visit.”

A government spokesman said: “No child should be without a roof over their heads. Municipalities have a duty to provide accommodation and we have given them £366 million this year to ensure they can find suitable accommodation, and we will pass legislation in the new year to ban section-21 evictions without error.

“Temporary housing is always a last resort, but a critical safety net to ensure families have a safe place to stay.”

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