About housing and homelessness

WHAG has always worked with women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. In fact, as our history shows, this is the reason the charity was set up in the first place.

Along with other areas of the country, Greater Manchester and Cheshire West and Chester have seen big increases in the numbers of street homeless people in recent years. According to the latest government figures, which were published in January 2018, 4,751 people are estimated to be sleeping rough in England on any one night. This is a 169% increase since 2010, with the North West showing the biggest increase.

There are lots of reasons why people become homeless. The housing charity Shelter splits these in to personal reasons, such as losing a job, family breakdown and coming out of prison, and structural reasons, such as a shortage of housing in some areas of the country and cuts to housing benefit.

The most common reasons given by homeless people themselves are:

  • Parents, friends or others unwilling or unable to carry on providing them with somewhere to live
  • Relationship breakdown, including domestic violence
  • Not being able to find anywhere else to live at the end of a tenancy.

Several research studies have shown that for women, homelessness and domestic abuse are closely linked. Women’s Aid found 11% of women fleeing domestic abuse had slept rough at some point, and St Mungo’s homelessness charity found that 50% of their female clients had experienced domestic violence.

But you don’t have to be on the street or ‘roofless’ in order to be homeless. The government estimates that 62% of single homeless people are not counted in official homelessness figures because they are ‘sofa surfing,’ or staying briefly with family or friends, squatting or living in other very insecure accommodation.
The numbers of families in temporary or bed and breakfast accommodation has also been increasing. In January 2018, it was 78, 930 households, which included over 120,000 children.

Homelessness Reduction Act

In April 2018, the Homelessness Reduction Act came in to force. It puts new duties on housing authorities to work with people who are at risk of homelessness, and extends the period of risk from 28 days to 56 days. They will have to make sure that people can get information about their options and their rights and the help that may be available to them. They will have to work with people to carry out assessments of need and draw up personalised housing plans for them.

Further information

For more information and statistics about housing and homelessness see

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