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'It's hitting boiling point': Christian charity warns of 'chronic' need for housing following new research

by Heather Preston

A Christian housing charity has warned of the desperate need for housing as research reveals over 50 percent of renters in England could be one pay cheque away from losing their home.

Data from the housing charity Shelter found more than half or renters have seen their payments go up in the past year while over 50 percent say they would not be able to pay their next month’s rent if they lost their job - up from 39 percent in 2021.

The poll, in June, surveyed 1,498 working adults in England who are private renters.

Bonnie Williams is Wales director for Housing Justice - a Christian charity working to alleviate homelessness in all its forms. She tells Premier the demand for housing has become “astronomical.”

“We are in a full housing crisis across England and Wales and unfortunately it's a combination of a whole number of factors.  What we're seeing is that people are in a very difficult position, whether that be in private rent, or waiting for housing.”

As of January 2023, 92 percent of UK households reported that their cost of living had increased when compared with the year before, while data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows rents across the UK has increased in the year to July by 5.3 percent.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter has blamed the rising instability on a "severe lack" of social homes and price hikes by landlords.

Shelter is calling on the government to address what it calls the "precarious" situation many tenants find themselves in.

Plans to boost renters' rights were announced as part of the Renters' (Reform) Bill earlier this year. The legislation will end no-fault evictions and ensure landlords maintain a good state of repair and quality, though some have criticised its slow delivery.

A government spokesperson told Sky News: "We have a strong track record of delivering affordable homes to rent and buy across the country.

"Our landmark Renters' (Reform) Bill will also deliver a better deal for renters, giving tenants greater security in their homes and preventing large rent increases being used as a backdoor method of eviction."

Williams explains how zero hour contracts, rent increases and a shortage of affordable housing has created a “perfect storm” for homelessness:

“Rents are at the highest levels we've ever seen since we started recording rents. The rises are higher than we've ever seen before.

“We've got over 100,000 households on the waiting list for social housing in England.

“We’re talking about nearly 3 million people on the social housing waiting list. And at the same time, we can see that the private rented sector is decreasing rapidly as well.

“The demand for housing is really, really chronic.”

Williams warns that a lack of intervention will see homelessness increase dramatically across the UK with more and more people turning to hostels and homelessness accommodation.

“The pressure is really hitting boiling point," she said. "We need political drive to have a long term strategy to housing. We need to be looking at future governments and for the future generations of our country, and to get social housing numbers significantly higher."

Amid grave concern, Williams praised the Church of England for the steps some clergy - including the Archbishop of Canterbury - have taken to release redundant land and buildings for social homes: "Justin Welby has shown great leadership in saying what the church's role here is, welcoming the challenge to the church as a landowner to really play our part."

Earlier this year Housing Justice launched a new legal guide for churches across England and Wales to support them in using their surplus land for affordable housing.

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