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Public attitudes towards homelessness: wave three (May 2022)

The Crisis Framing Homelessness Project has commissioned a bi-annual online survey to track the UK public’s attitudes to homelessness. The results will help to evaluate the progress of the project and provide a source of insight on public perceptions for the homelessness sector.​ The survey is carried out on behalf of Crisis by Consumer Insight.​

The first wave of research in October 2020 set a fresh baseline for the Framing Homelessness Project – to help assess how far we have to go in shifting public perceptions of homelessness. ​

This third wave of data was collected in October 2021. It provides our first Annual Report – giving us an insight into public attitudes one year on from when the baseline was established.​

Changing public attitudes is a long-term process. We would therefore not expect to see any dramatic moves with this first year of data. The research can however give us an indication of the direction of travel in public attitudes. ​

The results of wave three are published here.

Key findings:

  • The research gives a sense that the importance of ending homelessness is steadily building at a time when other causes have stayed static. 74% of respondents feel that reducing homelessness is extremely or very important up from 71% in October 2020.
  • Knowledge is gradually improving around different types of homelessness. For example, 60% of people agree that ‘people staying in temporary accommodation for a long period of time are homeless’, up from 56% the previous year. The research also shows small increases for forms of homelessness relating to overcrowding and unsafe housing.
  • However, this more rounded understanding of homelessness isn’t yet taking away from the idea that homelessness is just rough sleeping. ​42% of respondents agreed with the statement, ‘people are only really homeless if they’re sleeping rough’- an increase of 4% since the baseline data was captured.
  • Public perception of drugs and alcohol as the main cause of homelessness appears to be decreasing. 14% agreed that drug abuse / addiction is the most common cause of homelessness, down from 16% in Oct 2020. Similarly, 8% agreed alcohol abuse / addiction is the most common cause of homelessness, down from 11%.
  • There seems to be a broadening in people’s understanding of the variety of causes of homelessness, with the costs of living becoming an ever more prevalent issue in people's minds. 23% of people agree that a lack of affordable housing is almost always a cause of homelessness, compared with 17% in October 2020. 7% of people agreed that increased costs of living were almost always a cause of homelessness, compared with 4% the previous year.