Almost half a million households are at high risk of becoming homeless as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, a new study suggests.
The District Councils’ Network (DCN), which represents 187 councils responsible for tackling homelessness, called for the housing crisis to take centre stage in the Government’s exit strategy to prevent a surge in homeless households.
Families at risk are likely to include lower earners on the front line helping fight the coronavirus crisis across the health, food and logistic sectors, said the network.
Its analysis found there are 486,242 households paying over half of all their income on private rented housing, and could be most at risk as incomes fall and the current ban on evictions is lifted.
Councils said they were especially concerned about 108,000 lone parents with children, 100,000 16-to-24 year olds, and 160,000 households with incomes less than £15,000.
Despite the additional help from the Government, more people are already approaching councils at risk of homelessness, said the report.
The councils called on the Government to permanently lift housing benefit for tenants in private rented housing, increase funding for councils to prevent homelessness, invest in council house building and review the financial support given to businesses so that it incentivises them to retain and create jobs.
Giles Archibald of the DCN said: “Many families were already struggling to keep a roof over their heads before the coronavirus struck, including people now on the front line beating this crisis, lone parents, low earners and young people.
“We have grave concerns that the huge impact on jobs and incomes could send many of these half a million families over the edge and into homelessness in the coming months, particularly those struggling to pay their rent in the private rented sector.”
Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue magazine, said the report showed the urgency needed to tackle homelessness.
“We need some serious thinking about what needs to be done because we don’t want to end up with half a million households becoming homeless after this crisis ends,” he said.
Picture: Volunteers distribute food to a homeless family. (Erhan Demirtas/NurPhoto/PA).