News and Events

Black and Asian Britons more likely to be homeless or live in overcrowded homes

11 February 2014

New research on the boroughs of Kingston, Redbridge and Croydon has found that black and Asian residents are at higher risks of being homeless or living in overcrowded residences than their white counterparts. This is in a context of increasing fear amongst Britons of being unable to pay their rent or mortgage, and three years of increasing homelessness in the UK.


  • Over a quarter (26%) of homeless people are black, which is almost three times larger than the black population (9%) in Redbridge on a whole. The Black group makes up a slightly greater percentage of the homeless numbers than the White population (24%).
  • Black and minority groups are significantly more likely to be living in overcrowded accommodation. Almost a fifth (13%) of black and minority ethnic households are overcrowded, compared to only 4% of white households.

Rita Chadha, the CEO of RAMFEL said:

“Indicators on homelessness cannot be viewed in isolation. The factors that lead to a family or an individual becoming homeless are multiple, and in the case of black and minority ethnic communities in particular can be made worse by, for example, the jobcentre imposing sanctions, low paid employment, and not having the right documents to verify in a timely manner requests for information from Housing Allowance staff.

Overcrowding is a huge issue amongst BME communities within Redbridge, with certain communities like Roma and Somali, being more disproportionately affected than others. Concerns remain about the ability of BME communities to actively and consistently engage in the process of ‘bidding’ and the fact that they are not always able to navigate the complexities of housing allocation policy in the same way as non BME communities.”


  • Almost half (47%) of homeless people are black. The black homeless group is over two times larger than the black population in Croydon, which is 20%. The percentage of homeless black households is almost twice as large as homeless white households (25%).
  • Black and minority ethnic groups are over three times more likely to live in overcrowded conditions than the White group. (14% and 4% respectively)

Nero Ughwujab the Chief Executive of Croydon BME Forum is quoted in the report as:

“Clearly, this is a matter of serious concern and is a growing issue. Whilst it is identified as an issue in the current Housing Strategy, we do not believe that the strategy goes far enough in identifying solutions and proposing specific actions to address the crisis.

We believe that the council needs to urgently engage with BME communities in a deep and meaningful way to identify solutions to some of the more immediate problems of homelessness particularly in light of the benefit changes underway.

We know that the problem of overcrowding is much more complex and we will continue to work with the council on its strategy for increasing the number of 3–4 bedrooms accommodation in the borough.”


  • Although black groups only make up 3% of the population, they make up 9% of homeless households. The White population constitutes the majority of the homeless population.
  • Black and minority ethnic groups are almost three times more likely to live in overcrowded conditions than the White British group. (14% and 5% respectively)

A spokesperson for the Royal Borough of Kingston is quoted in the report as:

“The Runnymede Trust data reflects the national picture of homelessness collated from the statutory returns. Within their analysis, during 2011/12 the figures indicated that around 52% of households were White. When comparing that data with homelessness decisions taken during the same period in Kingston, the Kingston return indicates 59% of households were White. In other areas Kingston mirrors the national figures, for example homeless African Caribbean households accounted for 9% and mixed households 3%. The Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi households do not follow the national trends and in Kingston this number is lower at 4%.”

The findings are part of Runnymede’s Race Equality Scorecard project, which launches on 5 February in Parliament alongside films on each borough. The project is an innovative way of filling the accountability gap – holding local authorities and other stakeholders, such as the police and NHS, to account for racial inequalities in their areas.

The two year project has partnered with local race equality bodies in Croydon, Kingston and Redbridge. We've collected and monitored data on outcomes in 7 key areas, including housing, employment, criminal justice, education and health. This research has created a constructive dialogue with local authorities and other stakeholders with responsibility for the welfare of black and minority ethnic communities.

Watch the Redbridge film here.

Watch the Kingston film here.

Watch the Croydon film here.

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