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Homeless kids housed in shipping containers in England

Published : 22 Aug 2019, 02:22

  DF-Xinhua Report

A woman walks in the sunshine in London, Britain, on July 25, 2019. File Photo Xinhua.

More than half a million children in England are homeless or at risk of homelessness, a report by the Children's Commissioner for England disclosed Wednesday.

   Commissioner Anne Longfield in her report "Bleak House" said 120,000 children are already living in temporary accommodation, such as shipping containers, and another 90,000 known as sofa-surfing kids, adding to the 585,000 either homeless or at risk of homelessness.

   "There are thousands of children in England who are living in homeless families, stuck in poor quality temporary accommodation, often with low prospects of finding something permanent. There are many others who are at risk of ending up homeless," she said.

   Longfield said her report shines a light on the homelessness crisis in England.

   She said a nine-year-old girl told the commission: "We have to eat on the floor as there's not enough space ... when we sleep, water drips on us which we don't like." A teenage boy described living in a hotel for 8 months alongside sex workers.

   Longfield said some of the places children are being forced into calling home, often for months or years at a time, are inappropriate places for a child to be growing up.

   The report cited office block converted into homes in which whole families live in single rooms barely bigger than a parking space, and homeless families living in shipping containers which are blisteringly hot in summer and freezing in the winter months.

   Longfield added: "Most incidents of family homelessness in England are not the result of personal circumstances. Primarily it is a result of structural issues, including the lack of affordable housing and welfare reform. There is very little these families can do to escape the cycle of homelessness without outside help."

   "The children growing up in B&Bs, shipping containers and converted office blocks have a right to a decent home to grow up in. In this prosperous country of ours, it is a scandal that many thousands of children are growing up without one."

   Government statistics show that there were 62,000 homeless families living in temporary accommodation in England at the end of 2018. Among those families were 124,000 children. This means that there are 80 percent more children living in temporary accommodation than in 2010, the report added.