A report by housing charity Shelter has revealed that Manchester has the highest rate of homelessness in the North West, with one in 74 people being homeless.
Shelter’s Homelessness in England report was published on 11 January 2023 and the data was accurate as of 30 June 2022.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter said: “With private rents and living costs continuing to soar, thousands of people are not just facing a winter of worry, they are at risk of losing the roof over their head. At Shelter, we are bracing ourselves for a sharp rise in homelessness in 2023.”
The data showed that there were over 14,600 homeless people in the North West – including 6,720 children.
Manchester had the worst rate of homelessness in the region, with 7,450 people rough sleeping or in temporary accommodation.
The homeless population included anyone rough sleeping, or living in temporary accommodation arranged themselves or by the council.
Ms Neate said: “While Shelter’s analysis is the most comprehensive overview of recorded homelessness in the country, the true figure is likely to be much higher as some types of homelessness go entirely undocumented, such as sofa surfing.”
Shelter carries out a report on homelessness in England every year, where it separates data by region and local authority.
The three local authorities with the worst homelessness rate in the North West were all within Greater Manchester: Manchester, Salford and Oldham.
Manchester’s rate of homelessness was also far worse than the national average of 1 in 208 people.
Both the total number of homeless people and the rate of homelessness in Manchester have been steadily increasing over the last five years, according to Shelter’s annual reports – despite homelessness prevention schemes by local authorities like Manchester City Council.
Councillor Joanna Midgley, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We are working hard, together with a range of partner organisations, to help people who are at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.
“We are clear and open about the challenges, which aren’t getting any easier in the context of the ongoing impacts of austerity, Covid and the cost of living crisis. But we are also clear about how to address them and have set out a number of actions to expand our homelessness prevention work, find alternatives to temporary accommodation, support more people to move into settled homes and improve outcomes for people facing or experiencing homelessness.
“Our housing strategy is also helping to address the wider picture by delivering 10,000 new social and affordable homes over a decade.”
Shelter, Manchester City Council and local organisers have all identified the rising cost of living and lack of affordable housing as key factors leading to homelessness.
Tofunmi Odugbemi, Chair of Greater Manchester Tenants Union, said: “The rent rise, the evictions, and the loss of housing stock have been the primary reasons that we have flagged in our campaigning as causing increasing homelessness.”
Greater Manchester Tenants Union is a member-led organisation that supports tenants facing unfair evictions or other landlord-tenant disputes through collective action and protest.
Ms Odugbemi also felt that national and local governments need to do more to prevent homelessness and support those at risk.
She said: “It’s really quite simple: there needs to be a rent freeze and an eviction ban until no one is using the words ‘cost of living crisis’.
“During the pandemic action was taken – evictions were stopped – and that level of action needs to be taken now.”