Could Britain’s empty homes house the homeless?

sadiq khan homelessness figures rising

Research by estate agent comparison website, GetAgent.co.uk, has found that by utilising just 41.4% of Britain’s empty homes we could house the homeless.

There are an estimated 320,000 homeless people in Britain according to Shelter while there are some 322,386 homes that are vacant on a long-term basis, having been empty for more than six months.

With the average number of people per dwelling currently at 2.4, the volume of empty homes in Britain is enough to house 773,726 people with just 133,333, or 41.4% of these homes needed to provide a home for those currently going without.

GetAgent.co.uk also looked on a regional level at the number of vacant homes required in each area to house those classified as rough sleepers at 2.4 people to a dwelling and those classified as homeless and relief duty owed, and what this equates to as a percentage of the long-term vacant homes available.

The figures show it would take just two households or 0.5% of the 430 vacant homes in Halton, Cheshire, in order to house the homeless. It would also take less than one percent (0.6%) of vacant housing in Torbay and less than 10 percent in Stevenage, Rutland, Eden, South Staffordshire, Windsor and Maidenhead and Bolsover.

Of course, while some areas could provide housing with vacant properties to spare, this isn’t the case everywhere in Britain.

In Crawley, the number of rough sleepers and those classified as homeless and relief duty owed would need some 414 properties in order to house them, while there is just 30 identified as vacant on a long-term basis.

In Corby, 132 properties would be required while there are just 12 marked as long-term vacant, with Solihull, Westminster and Brent also amongst some of the areas with the highest proportion of homeless to vacant property available.

Founder and CEO of GetAgent.co.uk, Colby Short, commented:

“We know that the number of people living on the streets of Britain is far higher than the current estimates and it’s impossible to tell just how many people are homeless and in need of housing.

But even with these conservative estimates, many areas of Britain would require just a small percentage of the many empty homes available to make a difference when it comes to providing housing for the less fortunate.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case everywhere and some areas would need far more empty homes to address the issue and even then, it isn’t as clear cut as providing empty housing to those without any at all.

However, we wanted to highlight that at this time of year in particular, there are plenty of empty properties sitting vacant that could be utilised to help those in need.”

Data Description
Data Point
Notes/Sources
Number of homeless
320,000
Number of empty homes
322,386
Total in Britain
England
216,186
Wales
27,000
Scotland
79,200
Average number of people in a household/dwelling
2.4
Capacity
773,726
Vacant homes x People to a household
Vacant homes needed
133,333
Number of homeless / People to a household
Percentage of vacant homes
41.40%
Number of vacant homes needed / Number of total vacant homes
By smallest % of vacant dwellings needed
Location
Number of households – Rough sleepers and homeless relief duty owed
Long-term vacant dwellings
% of vacant homes needed to house homeless
Halton
2
430
0.5%
Torbay
8
1303
0.6%
Stevenage
5
156
2.9%
Rutland
16
183
8.7%
Eden
42
471
8.9%
South Staffordshire
31
345
9.0%
Windsor & Maidenhead
77
841
9.1%
Bolsover
63
646
9.7%
North East Derbyshire
49
488
10.1%
Sefton
204
1918
10.6%
Hyndburn
73
674
10.8%
Woking
38
346
10.9%
Chorley
54
499
10.9%
Waverley
69
615
11.2%
East Riding of Yorkshire
184
1585
11.6%
Forest of Dean
49
424
11.7%
South Oxfordshire
58
489
11.9%
North Warwickshire
30
250
11.9%
Derbyshire Dales
63
475
13.4%
Craven
60
430
13.9%
Local Authority Average
367
663
55.3%
Number of households – Rough sleepers and homeless relief duty owed = the number of rough sleepers per area as per Government figures divided into households at a ratio of 2.4 people to a house, then this number of households required is added to the number of households marked as homeless relief and duty owed as per the same Government source to find the total number of houses needed.
By largest % of vacant dwellings needed
Location
Number of households – Rough sleepers and homeless relief duty owed
Long-term vacant dwellings
% of vacant homes needed to house homeless
Crawley
414
30
1378.9%
Corby
132
12
1097.2%
Solihull
698
158
441.6%
Westminster
1172
304
385.4%
Brent
1488
405
367.3%
Barking & Dagenham
305
106
287.5%
Daventry
248
87
285.3%
Manchester
2866
1132
253.2%
Thurrock
376
152
247.2%
Hammersmith & Fulham
614
278
220.9%
Wandsworth
313
173
181.2%
North Somerset
383
216
177.1%
Salford
1908
1163
164.0%
Tower Hamlets
993
634
156.7%
Reading
585
387
151.3%
Bristol
1172
775
151.3%
Hounslow
286
191
149.5%
Milton Keynes
823
578
142.4%
Hackney
1283
933
137.5%
Mid Devon
153
113
135.6%
Local Authority Average
367
663
55.3%
Number of households – Rough sleepers and homeless relief duty owed = the number of rough sleepers per area as per Government figures divided into households at a ratio of 2.4 people to a house, then this number of households required is added to the number of households marked as homeless relief and duty owed as per the same Government source to find the total number of houses needed.

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