The homelessness crisis

Worstall’s Fallacy at large:

Last year, 112,070 people declared themselves homeless in England – a 26% increase in four years.

Err, no.

Local councils have a statutory duty to house some – such as pregnant women, parents with dependent children and people considered, for a variety of reasons, vulnerable (single people rarely qualify). Last year, 112,070 people in England approached their council as homeless, a 26% increase on the figure four years ago.

112,070 people would be homeless if it were not for the systems we have put in place to house those who would be homeless.

Maybe the system could be better but what we actually want to know is how many people are really without a roof over their heads:

The government’s Department for Communities and Local Government estimated that across England, 2,414 people slept rough on any one night last year, a rise of 36% since 2010

I’ve seen it said that absent mental health or addiction problems “real” homelessness is pretty much a solved problem.

30 comments on “The homelessness crisis

  1. For instance, “Even if you have a roof over your head you can still be homeless, if you don’t have any rights to stay where you live or your home is unsuitable due to severe overcrowding or other reasons.”

    See?

  2. Like many pseudo-charities, they expand the definition of whatever it is that they’re allegedly attempting to eliminate so as to keep themselves on the gravy train indefinitely.

  3. Slept rough on any one night in a year?? What does that mean? Pick any night of the year and 2414 people are sleeping rough or 2414 people spent a night sleeping rough last year?

  4. Isn’t Shelter the one that sacked huge numbers of their own employees a few years ago cos they wanted to switch from trying to get a roof over peoples head to being a socialist pressure group?.

  5. And while on the subject, see Tanya Gold’s CiF article about gifting a buggy to a Moldovan beggar.

    Comedy Gold indeed!

  6. A considerable amount of those people will not have been actually thrown out on the street by uncaring landlords and family members. The way the system works is that as stated, you have to be ‘homeless’ for the council to rehouse you. Ergo if you have accommodation at any given time but want to get council housing instead the way to achieve it is to ask your landlord/person your living with to ‘evict’ you and write to the council to that effect. You are therefore officially homeless and qualify for council assistance. My parents own a number of rental properties and from time to time this occurs – for whatever reason the person/family desire to move to council housing, and ask that they be ‘evicted’ by giving notice to quit, which they can then take to the council. But they were never actually homeless at any point, other than on paper, which as we all know is now reality as far as the State is concerned.

  7. Will there soon be “relative homelessness”? I.e. The difference between a two-bed flat and Buckingham Palace? “46% of the population were homeless last year” will shriek Polly.

  8. Rob – “Will there soon be “relative homelessness”?”

    How about “passive homelessness”? Where someone sleeping rough outside your front door makes you homeless in some magical way to do with statistics and quantum and stuff.

  9. That article of Tanya Gold would be an absolute hoot, were it not for the fact that each such situation and the support given by the CIFers posting in support of the “Moldovan beggar” indicates just how increasingly fvcked our country is and how close the left wing and metro classes have come to achieving the complete demise of our indigenous culture and social cohesion.

  10. “112,070 people would be homeless if it were not for the systems we have put in place to house those who would be homeless.”

    That is mistaken. Simply registering as homeless does not necessarily mean you are either what we’d commonly think of as homeless – Jim has a valid point about having to make yourself homeless in some cases – or going to receive help.

    JuliaM>

    “Check out Shelter’s definition of ‘homelessness’ & you’ll find it’s not what you imagine it to be…”

    You’re confusing homelessness with rough sleeping. It’s possible to be homeless and yet not sleeping on the streets – for example, staying with friends.

    They are two related but separate issues. It’s obviously not as urgent a problem if someone has a temporary roof over their head at night, but we still think they ought to have a home, not just a bed.

  11. @Dave
    “It’s possible to be homeless and yet not sleeping on the streets – for example, staying with friends. ”
    Christ! By that definition I spent a large potion of my early life homeless. Should i have been sleeping with enemies? Is it too late for counseling?

  12. JuliaM>

    “Do we, Dave?”

    Yes, Julia. That’s why we have things like housing benefit, not just bunkhouses.

    “And it seems to me that Shelter’s the one who is confused about homelessness, not me!”

    Yes, because you’re confused. Their definition is not manifestly unreasonable.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think Shelter is perfect – far from it – but they’re much better than many ‘charities’ out there. I’d guess it’s because homelessness is more of a problem in Central London, where the City types hang out, and so there’s a bit more common sense involved than normal with these kinds of organisations. Indeed, a quick look at Shelter’s board of trustees confirms that – a few of the usual suspects, but also a number of those we might expect to be a bit more grounded in the real world.

  13. B(N)IS>

    “By that definition I spent a large potion of my early life homeless.”

    Well, would you say you had a home at the time? At least in any sense more meaningful than that where a rough sleeper with a regular shop doorway has a home?

  14. B(n)iS: Christ! By that definition I spent a large potion of my early life homeless

    must have been a strong potion…

  15. @ Dave:

    Well, would you say you had a home at the time? At least in any sense more meaningful than that where a rough sleeper with a regular shop doorway has a home?

    Not just semantics, also very silly. Shelter should help out gap-yah types?

  16. Do we have a link to this Tania Gold article? I’d look for it but I’m reluctant to have anything as unsavoury as a search for a Guardian article in my Google search history.

  17. Oh, Dave… Where to begin?

    Yes, we do have housing benefit. But not so the benefit-dependency classes can have better standards of living than those paying for it all. See ‘spare room tax’.

    And no, any definition of homelessness that includes actually having a home that you don’t consider ‘suitable ‘ is a nonsense.

    Everyone can see that except charity wonks and…you. But I may be repeating myself there?

  18. @Dave
    Would I say I had a home at the time?
    Like a lot of my contemoraries the late 60s through the 70s the requirement was having a place to sleep, keep stuff, entertain. These may or may not have coincided at any one time but none included shop doorways. The concept of “home” for most would have been the parents’ place (visited reluctantly) or somewhere to be subsequently aspired to should the perils of “settling down” with wife/husband & two. veg prevail. One certainly didn’t expect or want a “home” provided. One had just expended a considerable amount of energy escaping one.

  19. Oh, by the way – according to your definition I’m currently homeless.
    Can I haz houze, pleez?

  20. http://winstonsmith33.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/living-arrangements.html

    …In either a council run hostel or a supported housing unit the young person will have his own room and bathroom and will have to share a kitchen with at the most three or four others. All of the young people tell me that they have spacious, heated rooms and that they think their accommodation is more than comfortable. They basically live in complexes or buildings that consist of many large bed sits….

    “Well Winston, technically they are all homeless in that none of them are in permanent accommodation (see government report 2003, More Than A Roof to see where this idea emanates from) And also the majority of them have to endure supported housing and so they will have to abide by rules and their freedoms will be curtailed, so technically that’s nothing like your own home..”.

    The truth of the matter is that without this centre existing for all these young people her £25,000 a year job would be gone….

  21. CJ Nerd – “Well Winston, technically they are all homeless in that none of them are in permanent accommodation (see government report 2003, More Than A Roof to see where this idea emanates from) And also the majority of them have to endure supported housing and so they will have to abide by rules and their freedoms will be curtailed, so technically that’s nothing like your own home..”.

    So basically all university students are homeless?

    I can see where the problem number come from.

  22. I think I’m with Dave on this one. The problem might be the definition of homelessness or at least the use of that term to describe something which most of us don’t think of as homeless. Perhaps it needs another intermediary term along the lines of “being without permanent secure housing”.

    I think for me the clincher is the matter of possessions. Quite simply the practicality of being able to keep your possessions without having a home. If you are unemployed, can’t afford longterm storage, you may have to sell, leave behind or skip most of the things you own because you don’t have decent accommodation for a few weeks. Not only would this be heartbreaking in itself but it could also dump someone into penury overnight, because once they lose those possessions how long before they can afford to replace them?

    So whilst I agree the term homeless is a poor one I also think it is insufficient to say someone with a roof over their head each night isn’t in need of further support from society, and we should try and avoid anyone getting to that position because it is likely to be the starting point of greater problems in the future.

  23. ” Perhaps it needs another intermediary term along the lines of “being without permanent secure housing”. ”

    There’s going to be a helluva lot of folk in that intermediate condition, then. Their housing can hardly be regarded as permanent & secure if it depends on them making the next rent or mortgage payment.

  24. Indeed and it’s unfortunate that every instance has to be qualified by personal circumstances and desires. There may be little practical difference between a student and a 65 year old woman living in shared accommodation other than what they desire from their housing. The former though probably has very few possessions and relatively little concern for privacy. The latter might have a lifetime of memories and possessions and grandchildren they would like to be able to stay with them.

    Whilst I wouldn’t have any problem making an average 21 year old share digs, I would be ashamed of making a 65 year old do so and everything in between and beyond has to be judged on a complicated spectrum that can’t be explained as simply as “you have a roof over your head tonight so our concern for you is over”

  25. “it’s unfortunate that every instance has to be qualified by personal circumstances and desires.”

    Indeed. So there’s actually nothing to be learned from arbitrarily defined homelessness figures.

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