Individuals become homeless due to personal problems they are experiencing. These include:

  • Troubled childhoods
  • Substance misuse
  • Victim of violent crime
  • Bankruptcy
  • Thrown out by relatives/friends
  • Eviction from a rented property
  • Prison
  • Mental and physical illness
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Involvement in crime from an early age

For a detailed analysis of the multiple, interacting causes of homelessness, see:

However, personal circumstances interact with broader, structural factors, which shape the level of homelessness in the UK. Examples are:

  • The ending of private sector tenancies
  • The increased cost of private rented accommodation
  • Housing shortages
  • Unemployment levels
  • Poverty
  • Lack of education
  • Welfare policies, such as delays in receiving Universal Credit and caps to the Local Housing Allowance

The Department for Communities and Local Government published a report in September 2017 which found that the ending of private sector tenancies is the biggest cause of statutory homelessness.

Shelter highlights in particular the lack of available social homes as a key cause of homelessness. The worst example is Newham, London, where, in 2017, there were 44 households on the waiting list for social housing for each home available, leaving a shortage of over 25000 homes.

Crisis has focused on the gap between the Local Housing Allowance and rent costs, unfair sanctions, and the lack of a choice of Universal Credit payments going directly to landlords.