In a recent survey the charity Shelter found that almost 255,000 are homeless across the UK, and Newham is second in the ‘league’ of London’s homelessness.
The city of Westminster recorded the highest homelessness levels with 1 in 25 people classified as homeless. East London’s borough of Newham came a close second with a homelessness rate of 1 in 27, equating to a homeless population of 12,246.
In 2016 two and half thousand people appealed to Newham council for somewhere to live. Of these, more than 1300 were considered homeless and given assistance, 198 were noted as ‘intentionally homeless’, a further 286 were recorded as ‘homeless but not priority’, and the remaining 619 were classified as ‘eligible but not homeless’. Around 40 people are currently thought to be sleeping rough in Newham.
It should be noted that Shelter’s interpretation of homelessness varies considerably from the categories used by local authorities. Staying with family or friends constitutes homelessness according to some definitions, but not all. In any case, the surge in house prices has undoubtedly led to more pressure on increasingly limited housing stock: Newham currently has 25,000 applicants on the waiting list for social housing. But the council’s social housing stock amounts to less than 18,000 dwellings in total.
It was also reported that 1 in 30 people accommodated in Newham’s rented sector, are currently at risk of being evicted.
No wonder there is widespread concern on behalf of those unable to keep a roof over their heads. On the streets of Stratford, many people voiced their sympathies towards the homeless.
Jayden, 20, confessed: ‘It makes me feel bad to be out in Stratford, shopping or spending money and to walk past someone who literally has nothing, so I always try to give some change.’
Amy, 21, added: ‘This is not a problem people can fix by giving small bits of change, the government should work harder to look after these people, that is the whole point of us having a welfare state, to protect the unable and the vulnerable.’
James, 35, said: ‘ Homelessness can affect anyone. Most of the people sleeping rough had a life or a family before being homeless, with all the cut backs, anyone can really become homeless at the blink of an eye.’
He went on to say: ‘I think charities are over stretched, I think we need to look at the deep rooted reasons why people are forced to sleep rough for example all of the social houses that are being demolished or the benefits that are being cut when the statics clearly show a demand for them.’
With homelessness at the forefront of many people’s minds, it makes you wonder why it’s not more of an election issue.