Homelessness can affect anyone.  Many walks of life include people who have been homeless in the past and have gone on to success and happiness. However, some groups of people are more likely to become homeless due to their support needs or particular barriers they facing getting accommodation.

Breaking down the stereotypes of homeless people at Chelsea Flower Show 2009.  Photo by Robert DavidsonOur Survey of Needs and Provision showed that there are approximately 43,000 people living in hostels and other supported accommodation for homeless people.  In addition to this, there are people who do not show up in any official figures.  These include individuals and families who become homeless but find temporary solutions by staying with friends or family.  This group is often referred to as 'sofa surfing' or concealed households.  Others live in squats.  Crisis has made attempts to quantify the level of this 'hidden homelessness,' however this figure does include people living in hostels. 

Some groups are more vulnerable to homelessness because they have particular support needs or have fewer rights. You are more likely to become homeless if you have:

  • been in care as a child or had a disturbed childhood
  • a mental illness or addiction
  • been in the armed forces
  • spent time in prison
  • migrated to this country from Eastern or Central Europe or arrived as an asylum seeker.

For more information on the backgrounds of people who are homeless, please follow the links on the right hand side.

Structural factors increasing risk of homelessness

  • shortage of affordable accommodation
  • unemployment
  • low incomes
  • debt
  • the welfare benefits system
  • trends in residential care and community care
  • migration

What leads people into homelessness?

As well as personal and structural risk factors, we now understand the main routes into homelessness.  Specific events can precipitate homelessness.  These 'triggers' include:

  • relationship breakdown
  • domestic violence
  • leaving home or care
  • leaving institutions (prison, hospital or the armed forces)
  • death of a partner
  • getting into debt, specifically morgage or rent arrears