MORE than 1,000 children were homeless and in temporary accommodation across south Essex at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, new figures show.
Housing charity Shelter said it is “unbearable” that tens of thousands of children across England had no permanent home when the pandemic took hold, after the national total hit a 14-year high.
New figures from the charity show in Southend, households with children were most commonly in hostels – with 138 families in total.
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show 280 children from 146 households were housed in temporary accommodation in Southend at the end of March.
In Basildon, the figure was 665 children, from 352 households, while in Castle Point, it was 167 children from 74 households.
Zoey Smith, founder of the One Love Soup Kitchen, which provides food and support for the homeless, said: “I fear the figures could be much more as we found out authorities were sending homeless people to Southend in the pandemic.
“It’s bad enough for one person living in hostels and one room in temporary accommodation so it’s worse for a family and is stressful too. Also with the pandemic they would have been stuck in a room and unable to get out.
“It would also be bad for the mental health of these families.
According to Shelter, across England, there were 129,380 children in temporary accommodation on March 31 – the highest number since 2006.
Temporary accommodation may include bed and breakfasts, hostels or other nightly housing.
Shelter says bed and breakfasts are “some of the worst places for families with children to live” as they often involve entire households living in one small room without cooking facilities.
Overall, 93,000 households were in temporary accommodation across England at the end of March, up by nine per cent on last year.
Chief executive Polly Neate said: “It’s unbearable to think that tens of thousands of children were already homeless when the pandemic first took hold.
“What kind of futures will they have when they are spending formative time squashed into temporary homeless accommodation during a national lockdown?
“Life in temporary accommodation is hugely destabilising for children and can disrupt their development.”