In 2023, UK homelessness gross expenditure totalled circa £1.74b, three quarters of which was spent on Emergency and Temporary Accommodation – a 62% increase in the past five years. Even more shocking is a report from London Councils revealing that a staggering one in every 23 children in London is homeless.

The Family Emergency Accommodation Guidance, authored by Morris+Company, provides a thorough synthesis of policy mapping and face to face interviews, which evidence the critical need for better standards in Emergency Accommodation for families with dependent children.

Morris+Company’s research team alongside a team of local authority housing specialists and industry professionals, have utilised the findings to define a set of key recommendations, spatial guidance, and viability modelling, to ensure the practical delivery of much needed, high-quality Emergency Accommodation, to ultimately assist and alleviate the ‘route out of homelessness’.

The findings also demonstrate that the use of umbrella terms such as ‘Temporary Housing’ and ‘Temporary Accommodation,’ means that something as pressing as the need for purpose built Emergency Accommodation (PBEA) is overlooked, with current space standards not fit for purpose.

The cavernous gap in standards is visibly evident, and definitively impacts the health, safety and wellbeing of families and children in Emergency Accommodation. Whilst some local authorities provide additional HMO guidance beyond the bottom line of the Housing Act, this is inconsistent and rarely considers infants and children under 10.

The Housing Act sets out a standard requirement of 90sqft (8.3 sqm) for one and a half persons, for a single bedroom (single person occupancy). In addition, infants under the age of 1 are unaccounted for, which means that a mother with multiple children under the age of one, may be lawfully placed in a single bedroom that cannot accommodate furniture for safe sleeping, adequate storage, window, and door access. Not to mention space for a pram.

Call to Action

The Family Emergency Accommodation Guidance proposes a new, more specific definition of ‘Emergency Accommodation’, to denote places where people are housed for 56 days, while local authorities carry out a duty of care assessment. As such this Emergency Accommodation type should also be subject to new design standards.

+ Download the full research document here

+ Route out of homelessness key recommendations here

+ Example policy text for inclusion within Local Plan here

Research Launch Miranda MacLaren, Morris+Company’s director and housing lead, alongside Polina Pencheva, launch the Family Emergency Accommodation Guidance, in collaboration with Commonweal Housing, Common Projects and The Magpie Project.
Example of recommended Play Spaces for Emergency Accommodation An external, safe, play area for children is a priority for family accommodation, and should be designed and maintained to provide an inclusive and uplifting space for children to play safely together.
Example Support Spaces for Emergency Accommodation All shared spaces need to be carefully located to encourage positive relationships, ensuring that both staff and residents have spaces where they feel safe to carry out their daily activities. As well as a place to ask for assistance and share knowledge with their community.
Example entrance for Emergency Accommodation The entrance and the route to the front door is essential to ensure that families feel welcome, safe and are treated with dignity as soon as they arrive in their new temporary home.
Current living standards Photo taken from one of the homes we visited
Shared lobby space Photo taken from one of the homes we visited

Family Emergency Accommodation Guidance