Making sure everyone has a proper roof over their head should be a given. But the reality is that homelessness is a huge and increasingly worrying problem that is not going away.
Recent research, conducted by the Heriot-Watt University and Crisis, has highlighted the severity of this issue in the UK. For example, by 2026, it estimates that the number of rough sleepers across Great Britain could rise to 16,000. And in 2016 alone, almost 160,000 households were affected by some form of homelessness – with rough sleeping, temporary accommodation and people staying with friends among the main reasons for this figure.
A lack of affordable housing, unemployment and poverty are some of the most common factors for homelessness. However, mental or physical health conditions and substance abuse can also play a part and in turn, make these personal issues more difficult for individuals to deal with.
Preventing homelessness involves so much more than simply getting people off the streets and finding them a place to stay. Long term solutions are desperately needed to reduce the amount of people ending up in this situation to begin with.
In the UK, stronger action from the government is required to improve existing policies and ensure more social and affordable housing is available. Further investment in local authorities would also allow communities to pilot new initiatives in support of the issue. The Department for Communities and Local Government is investing £550 million by 2020 to help tackle homelessness, which is a start – but more work can still be done in the meantime.
We are the one generation to end this problem. We can already support those without homes and contribute towards getting people the help they need to deal with the difficulties that lead to homelessness – before things escalate.
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