Lifting the lid on hidden homelessness: a new analysis

Homelessness Low income housing Emergency housing Marginal housing United Kingdom
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Homelessness in England is a deepening crisis. This irrefutable fact has led to increased pressure on local and national government to provide solutions. National political responses have included the creation of the first homeless select committee in 2014, as well as the creation of an all party parliamentary group on homelessness and passage of the Homeless Reduction Act in 2016. High profile localised initiatives include the Mayors of Greater Manchester and London prioritising ending rough sleeping and preventing all forms of homelessness in their areas. There is hope of solutions on the horizon for the deepening homelessness crisis as it increasingly becomes part of political agendas. These are welcome shifts, however the issue of hidden homelessness in UTA in England is still largely ignored.

Unsupported Temporary Accommodation (UTA) is private short stay accommodation often known by other terms such as: Bed and Breakfast, short stay houses of multiple occupation (HMOs), private hostels, emergency accommodation and guest houses. Those who live in UTA have no permanent residency status and limited or no access to local authority support to secure settled accommodation. Sadly, because UTA is often ignored both by local authorities and the wider homelessness community, its residents are left with little hope for alternatives. Our previous three-year qualitative research, based on in-depth interviews with 45 residents, conducted with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) North discovered a dire reality for all those in UTA. At the point when individuals find a bed in UTA—whether self-placed, referred by local authorities or other agencies—most will experience a dramatic decrease in their mental health and feelings of control in their lives precisely when all previous support drops off entirely. Many residents will be facing severe and multiple disadvantage, while stuck in poor accommodation with intimidating environments and other vulnerable residents facing similar disadvantages. This unhappy reality for residents often feeds into cycling between rough sleeping and UTA. Unsupported Temporary Accommodation is a crucial, but currently missing, piece in conversations about the growing homelessness crisis and how to solve it.

We hope that the findings of our report will place UTA in the conversation to ensure all those in this accommodation are no longer left hidden and forgotten in some of the darkest corners of England’s housing market. We do this through the following three chapters

  • Unsupported Temporary Accommodation as part of a ‘system of homelessness’
  • The Scale of Unsupported Temporary Accommodation
  • Recommendations
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