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London has more than 86,000 homeless children living in temporary accommodations for years with no permanent address, no school and no secure future.  They have no happy memories of their own home, own roof and own address.

The latest report by Human Rights Watch and the Childhood Trust highlight the plight of homeless children. The documents highlights how the rights of children in families living in temporary accommodation are being violated - rights to housing, education, health, and play. We found that children in London are growing up in substandard and uninhabitable conditions as a result of persistent policy failures.

London has the highest rate of child poverty of any English region, and the child poverty rate at least doubles when housing costs are accounted for in 26 of the 33 boroughs.

The situation became worse during the pandemic. Available reports suggested that homelessness pressures in the capital were approaching their “worst-ever levels”, with the number of households living in temporary accommodation at its highest point for 15 years.

London Councils, a cross-party group representing all 32 boroughs and the City of London, were concerned because the pandemic presents an extra challenge for sheltering rough sleepers during the winter months.  The normal pathway of hostels and winter shelters rely on shared sleeping spaces where social distancing is impractical.

London boroughs have urged the government to rethink a national policy if the government is to have “any hope” of meeting its homelessness reduction targets.

London currently has 86,450 children in temporary accommodation, experiencing some of the same failures of state support that many families and their children did.  According to HRW, accommodation has become less and less affordable for low-income families, in part due to government measures such as freezing housing benefits for four years between 2016 and 2020, and again from 2021 onwards, with families feeling the squeeze as rents rise but benefits don’t.

If a family loses their home, local councils are obliged under English law to provide temporary accommodation until something more permanent is found. Over the past decade, the number of families living in temporary accommodation in England has increased by 65 percent, with the majority in London.

Protections put in place in response to Covid-19—such as the eviction ban and the boost to Universal Credit—played a crucial role in keeping a roof over people’s head as well as to ensure the right to health during the pandemic. However, with these protections now stripped away and with living costs rising, low-income families are in the midst of an uncertain winter.A recent estimate found that over 200,000 children living in privately rented homes are at risk of homelessness with the family either having received an eviction notice, or being behind on rent, stated Human rights watch.