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Photo by Ev on Unsplash
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World News

'Their circumstances are much worse than in the past': Christian homeless charity speaks out on housing emergency

by Lydia Davies

Homelessness in England surged by 16 per cent in the last quarter of the previous year. The latest government data revealed that nearly 45,000 households were identified as homeless from October to December, marking an increase from almost 39,000 in the corresponding period of 2022.

The situation has also led to a record number of individuals, including children, living in temporary housing throughout 2023, highlighting a critical housing "emergency."

David Smith is from Christian founded Oasis Community Housing, which champions the motto "Hope, not homelessness." He told Premier Christian News: "The primary cause of homelessness continues to be relationship breakdown or the end of a private sector tenancy, and consequently, there just aren't enough social homes for people or enough homes of any kind actually as it happens." He stressed how homeless people are in worse situations now than ever, saying: "The people that we support in our work...there's a higher number of people coming through (and) very often when people get to us, their situation and circumstances are much worse than they might have been in the past."

Smith commended churches for their significant contribution to supporting the homeless community. He said: "The church community in the UK does an enormous amount in this space, and it's incredible. Churches can get alongside people; that's the first thing we can do...also...treating them with dignity and respect." He concluded by encouraging Christians to donate to homeless shelters across the UK, like Oasis.

In Parliament, Mike Amesbury, the opposition's homelessness minister, criticised the current administration, stating: “These figures underscore a deepening housing emergency under the Conservative government, impacting families nationwide. For 14 years, Conservative policies have severely undermined housing security, thrusting Britain into a homelessness crisis.” In defense, a spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Our goal is for everyone to have a safe home. We're allocating £1.2bn to councils for financial aid to assist individuals in finding new homes and transitioning out of temporary accommodation. Additionally, we've increased the local housing allowance by £800 to support 1.6 million tenants with their rent.”

Tom Darling from the Renters’ Reform Coalition told The Independent: “The increasing number of evictions adds strain on council budgets already struggling with homelessness. The government’s hesitant stance on crucial reforms exacerbates this ongoing crisis.”

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