UK’s Housing Affordability Crisis Drives Surge in Homelessness

UK Rising Rents Housing affordability driving homelessness

Rising rents are fueling a global homelessness crisis, particularly in the UK, where housing costs have surged dramatically, putting vulnerable populations, including the poorest and families with children, at risk. Discover the stark realities behind the soaring rental rates, the unique challenges faced by private renters, and why housing affordability should be recognized as a fundamental human right.

In the UK, Much Like Everywhere Else Across the Globe, Homelessness is Rising with the Rent

Time and again, political figureheads grasp at straws to explain the homeless crisis without mentioning housing. As homelessness rises across the UK, we witness the age-old trend of rising rents.

It would seem that all across the developed world, homelessness rises with the rent. How can this be a controversial opinion when it is a fact?

Causes of Homelessness: The Most Prevalent of Which is Unaffordable Housing

According to the most recent estimates, BBC London reports that the average rent for a one-bedroom unit costs 46.3% of the gross median pay in London. This puts city residents in the perilous position of being rent-burdened, a hardship that is often a precursor to homelessness.

“My wages still don’t feel enough to comfortably live,” said Tace McWilliam. After more than a month-long search for housing in her price range, Tace finally settled for sharing her occupancy, claiming that even with a decent job, she couldn’t afford to live on her own.

Reporters at Sky News and elsewhere have dubbed this a “cost of living crisis,” concluding that homelessness amongst local renters has reached historic highs.

This is not just happening in the UK. The fact that homelessness continues to rise as rental rates shoot literally through the roof is evident all across the globe, making the need for affordable housing one that can no longer be overlooked.

Crisis now cites the failure of wages to keep pace with rent as one of the leading causes of UK homelessness. Poverty, inequality, and discrimination are also on the list. One of the most unique tipping points for vulnerable local renters seems to be privately renting homes, a process that includes, among other things:

  • Short-term leases at exorbitant prices
  • Self-help evictions
  • Landlords opting to sub-let or even sell their short-term rentals to the detriment of the people inside them and much more

Private Tenants are All of Us, A Foreshadowing of Trials to Come

UK homelessness is up a staggering 74% since 2010. Experts claim the future is even more bleak.

If we want a true glimpse into the future of homelessness nationwide, we need only look to the current struggle private renters are experiencing, they say.

An investigative deep dive shows that homelessness rates have skyrocketed for private renters in recent months, as landlords choose wealth over humanity by opting to re-let or even sell their abodes. Statistics also show that departing from a private rental unit drastically increases the risk of becoming homeless.

“The dire shortage of genuinely affordable social homes means millions of people have no choice but to live in really expensive and unstable private renting,” explained Shelter representative Polly Neate.

Study of Homeless Hotspots Shows Cities with the Highest Rental Rates Also Exhibit the Highest Rates of Homelessness

Experts identified several homeless hotspots in places such as:

  • Brighton
  • Bristol
  • Reading
  • Birmingham
  • Manchester

The majority of these regions made another list as well – the list of the most expensive cities to live in. Please note that wherever there are high rents, there are high rates of homelessness. This statement is not true regarding high rates of substance abuse or mental illness, proving yet again that housing prices are the root cause of the UK’s homeless crisis and that other issues are secondary at best.

Poor Neighborhoods and Families with Children Are Hit Hardest by the Recent Surge in Rental Rates

Adding insult to injury is the fact that rental rates are rising highest amongst two demographics – the poorest populations and families with young children.

The Guardian reports that poverty-stricken regions are exhibiting higher, faster rent hikes when compared to wealthy and middle-income neighborhoods. A recent study looks at the trend, revealing that in some poor metropolitan regions, the rent price has more than doubled in just four years, leaving the poorest people among us to bear the brunt of the affordability crisis.

Meanwhile, child homelessness soars all across England, even in places where individual homelessness exhibits a marginal decrease. The poor and the young suffer at the hands of insufferable landlords. At the same time, financial analysts project even more homelessness to come in these populations and perhaps within your community as well.

As long as we continue to attribute the wrong causes to the homeless crisis, we will continue garnering negative results, and the rise in homelessness and rental rates will inevitably continue. The only way to free society from the vicious cycle is to build and make available sufficient, safe, affordable homes.

Talk To Your Legislators About Addressing the Affordability Crisis with Rent Control and Laws That Make Housing a Human Right

More laws must be put into place to protect prospective renters from these massive rent hikes and homelessness by way of eviction.

If you care about the most vulnerable people living amongst us – the children, older people, and people experiencing poverty – use your voice today to speak up for those who do not have one. Urge your local legislators to enact rent control legislation and laws that make housing an irrevocable human right for all.

Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith


Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

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