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21 November 2022

Black people are almost four times as likely to experience homelessness as white people

A third of black people with experience of homelessness have faced discrimination from a social or private landlord.

By Aisha Majid

Black people are almost four times as likely to experience homelessness as their white peers, according to findings by Heriot-Watt University.

The research, carried out in partnership with the non-profit organisation Race on the Agenda, found that households headed by someone who is black are 3.6 times as likely to apply to an English local authority because they are homeless or threatened with homelessness, when compared with households led by someone who was white British.

The research also revealed that almost a third (32 per cent) of black people with experience of homelessness have faced discrimination from a social or private landlord, and found that discrimination, harassment or abuse because of race or ethnicity in housing appeared to increase the risk of being left without a place to live.

People from Asian minority ethnic groups, while less likely than those from black or mixed backgrounds to find themselves statutorily homeless, sleeping rough or in unsuitable temporary accommodation, were more likely to experience what the report called "hidden aspects" of homelessness. This includes overcrowding or "doubling up" with other households. Pakistani and Bangladeshi households faced the greatest risks of these.

Injustice in housing has come into the spotlight following a coroner’s verdict last week that the death of Awaab Ishak, 2, in 2020 was due to prolonged exposure to toxic mould in his home. The boy's father made repeated requests that the landlord, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, address the problem but nothing was done. The housing association's boss, Gareth Swarbrick, has since been sacked.

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[See also: Who is authentically black if not Kwasi Kwarteng?]

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