An estimated 8.4 million people across England are living in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable homes, according to the National Housing Federation.
People within this group face issues ranging from homelessness and serious debt to overcrowding and ill health, and many children are missing out on a fair start in life.
The Federation used data from the “understanding society” survey – an annual survey of 40,000 people carried out by the University of Essex – to make the calculations.
The figures were scaled up to reflect the whole population of England.
Research was carried out by Heriot-Watt University on behalf of the Federation.
Looking at how people are affected differently, the calculations estimated that:
- 3.6 million people are living in an overcrowded home.
- 2.5 million are unable to afford their rent or mortgage.
- 2.5 million are living in “hidden households” they cannot afford to move out of – such as house shares, adults living with their parents, or people living with an ex-partner.
- 1.7 million are living in unsuitable housing such as older people stuck in homes they cannot get around and families in properties which have no outside space.
- 1.4 million are in poor quality homes.
- 400,000 are homeless or at risk of homelessness, including people who are sleeping rough, sofa surfing or have been discharged from a hospital or other institution with nowhere to go.
The Federation said some people may have more than one of these housing problems.
People were considered to be living in overcrowded homes based on the “bedroom standard”.
This was contravened if a child had to share their bedroom with two or more other children, sleep in the same room as their parents, or share with a teenager who was not the same sex as them.
It was also contravened if an adult has to share with someone other than a partner.
The report also calculated that around 3.6 million people with housing problems would have their needs best met if they were in social housing.
Social housing rents are on average 50% cheaper than from private landlords, contracts are more secure and many properties are designed specifically for older people with mobility issues, it said.
Urging “a return to proper funding for social housing”, Kate Henderson, chief executive at the National Housing Federation, said: “From Cornwall to Cumbria, millions of people are being pushed into debt and poverty because rent is too expensive, children can’t study because they have no space in their overcrowded homes, and many older or disabled people are struggling to move around their own home because it’s unsuitable.
“This crisis cannot be solved by tweaks around the edges of the housing market.”