Over the last 20 or so years I reckon that I have probably dealt with about 4000 cases helping people to buy their dream home and owners of small and medium-sized family enterprises find the perfect accommodation for their business.

It, therefore, came as a bit of a shock when I recently read that homelessness is relentlessly increasing, particularly at a time when the political focus is elsewhere. The article I read was in The Times and went under the headline: “Families without a home at highest for a decade” and the writer included some sobering facts: “At the end of June [2017] 78,180 households were in temporary housing, a level not seen since December 2007 – the number of households classified as statutorily homeless was 14,400.”

In what is increasingly seen as a rudderless administration we now have another Minister of State for Housing and Planning — the 16th since 2000 — and it doesn’t seem very likely that the homeless situation will improve any time soon, given that politics is being dominated by Brexit and the UK’s faltering economic performance.

Hopefully, Alok Sharma MP — the new Housing Minister — will prove to be the exception to the rule and will implement changes that will consign to history images like the one recently captured by Dominika Zarzycha — a poignant picture of a dog guarding a homeless person’s belongings in Camden in July 2017 — especially as “time leads summer on, to hideous winter… sap checked with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone.”

In fact, the minister could do worse than to attend the October meeting of the Regent’s Park Property Investors Network at which Simon Zutshi (PIN’s founder) will talk about his new charitable initiative aimed at helping to encourage young property entrepreneurs and to show how SMEs can help alleviate the housing crisis.

Earlier in the year it was reported that there are more than 200,000 homes (with a market value of over £43billion) that have been unoccupied for more than six months. One of the most common reasons that properties remain empty is because the owners cannot raise the finance needed to renovate the houses in order to sell or rent them out.

In the meantime, in the hope of raising some essential funding to help those without shelter this winter, I will be participating in Byte Night London 2017 on 6 October. Any donations would be very gratefully received on, which you can make HERE.

And remember: people aren’t just homeless at Christmas.

Tony Houghton

Photograph by kind permission copyright 2017 Dominika Zarzycha