• Tuesday, April 16, 2024


24,000 people in West Midlands will spend Christmas without a home, new study finds

Shelter’s comprehensive analysis of official homelessness figures and responses to Freedom of Information requests reveal 1 in 248 people in the West Midlands are homeless today

HSBC and Shelter, Birmingham Housing Crisis – Doors Art Installation, Birmingham New Street Station – Image Credit: James Robinson

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

New data released by Shelter UK reveals a harrowing reality for many in the West Midlands this Christmas: over 24,000 individuals, including 12,590 children, will experience homelessness, marking an 18% increase in one year.

Analysing official homelessness figures and data obtained through Freedom of Information requests, Shelter’s comprehensive study exposes the dire situation.

Presently, 1 in 248 individuals in the West Midlands are homeless, a press release from Shelter said.

The rise in homelessness within the region has been swift and staggering, with 250 people sleeping rough on any given night—a 32% increase—and 22,400 individuals living in temporary accommodations (18% increase), notably families.

Birmingham, with 16,200 people, tops the list for the highest number of individuals without a home, followed by 2,600 in Coventry and 600 in Solihull.

The charity emphasises that while councils have a legal duty to house vulnerable individuals and families, the scarcity of affordable homes forces them to rely on temporary accommodations for extended periods.

Consequently, families endure prolonged stays in substandard hostels, B&Bs, or cramped spaces, often lacking essential amenities like cooking or laundry facilities.

Those ineligible for accommodation support might face the risk of homelessness, finding themselves on the streets, relying on sofa-surfing arrangements, or residing in hazardous living conditions.

Shelter’s frontline services witness the grim reality of rising homelessness daily, supporting families cramped in inadequate accommodations with issues like moldy walls and bed bugs. Shelter also helps provide emergency assistance to people faced with a night on the streets.

Furthermore, Shelter has launched an urgent appeal, urging the public to help support individuals experiencing homelessness this winter.

Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, calls attention to the severity of the housing crisis, condemning the chronic underinvestment in social housing that has pushed many into homelessness.

“It is appalling that the government has allowed thousands of families to be packed into damp and dirty B&B’s and hostel rooms, which are traumatising children and making people desperately ill,” she said.

“Until the government takes this emergency seriously, our frontline services will do everything they can to help people keep or find a safe home this winter. It is only with the public’s support that we can continue to provide vital advice and support and fight for the solutions people want and need to end homelessness.”

As a result of Shelter’s commitment to providing crucial aid while rallying for viable solutions to end homelessness, the charity is staging the ‘No Place Like Home’ art installation at Birmingham New Street station from December 11-18.

HSBC and Shelter, Birmingham Housing Crisis – Doors Art Installation, Birmingham New Street Station – Image Credit: James Robinson

This exhibit, featuring ten front doors adorned by independent artists inspired by real-life accounts of local families affected by homelessness, aims to spotlight the city’s housing emergency.

HSBC UK, a key partner of Shelter, is sponsoring the installation, aiming to raise awareness and address the housing crisis.

Luke Harper, Head of Partnerships at HSBC UK said, “Everyone has a right to a safe home and a lockable front door. Through this compelling and accessible art installation, our aim is to help highlight the true scale of the housing crisis in Birmingham.

Emphasising the importance of a secure home and highlighting HSBC’s expanded collaboration with Shelter, he said the partnership focuses on supporting individuals, including single-parent families and marginalised groups, to increase financial resilience and counter homelessness.

HSBC and Shelter, Birmingham Housing Crisis – Doors Art Installation, Birmingham New Street Station – Image Credit: James Robinson

“Building on the positive impact of our ground-breaking No Fixed Address bank account service, we’ve expanded our partnership with Shelter to help more people and families build financial resilience and break the vicious circle of homelessness. This includes funding greater emergency help measures, as well as expanding existing Shelter programmes with digital and in-person services to help people build financial health.”

Through this joint effort, they aim to provide targeted support and challenge housing system inequities. The installation, anticipated to attract 1.2 million visitors weekly during the bustling Christmas period, seeks to draw attention to this critical issue.

More information about this project can be found on the charity’s website. Shelter exists to defend the right to a safe home and fight the devastating impact the housing emergency has on people and society. Shelter believes that home is everything.

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