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In England, local authorities have duties under the Housing Act 1996 and the Homelessness Act 2002 towards some homeless people. This situation is described as statutory homelessness.
"Non-statutory homelessness" covers people who are considered by the local authority to be not eligible for assistance, not in priority need or "intentionally homeless".
In 2007/2008, the Office of the Deputy for Homelessness Statistics produced a table which showed some of the more immediate reasons for homelessness in England. These were not underlying reasons but before the onset of homelessness. These reasons were given by the minister's report for 2007/2008 as:
The longer term causes of homelessness in England have been examined by a number of research studies. These suggest that both personal factors (e.g. addictions) and structural factors (e.g. poverty) are responsible for homelessness. A number of different pathways into homelessness have been identified.  There are additional factors that appear to be causes of homelessness among young people, most notably needing to face the responsibilities of independent living before they are ready for them 
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All local authorities in England have a legal duty to provide 24-hour advice to homeless people, or those who are at risk of becoming homeless within 28 days.
A local authority must accept an application for assistance from a person seeking homelessness assistance if they have reason to believe that the person may be homeless or threatened with homelessness. They are then duty bound to make inquiries into that person's circumstances in order to decide whether a legal duty to provide accommodation and assistance is owed. "Interim accommodation" must be provided to those that may be eligible for permanent assistance pending a final decision. If the local authority decides that a person is homeless but does not fall into a priority need category, then a lesser duty shall be owed which does not extend to the provision of temporary accommodation. If the authority decides that a person is homeless and priority need but became homeless intentionally then the authority must secure that accommodation is available for such a period as will give the person reasonable time to find long term accommodation, which can extend to provision of temporary accommodation. The local authority shall in all the above cases be lawfully obliged to offer advice and assistance.
Certain categories of persons from abroad (including British citizens who have lived abroad for some time) may be ineligible for assistance under the legislation.
A person does not have to be roofless to qualify legally as being homeless. They may be in possession of accommodation which is not reasonably tenable for a person to occupy by virtue of its affordability, condition, location, if it is not available to all members of the household, or because an occupant is at risk of violence or threats of violence which are likely to be carried out.
If the applicant qualifies under the five criteria (that they are not ineligible for housing, such as a person subject to immigration control; that the applicant is statutorily homeless or threatened with homelessness; that they are of 'priority need'; that the applicant is not intentionally homeless; and that the applicant has a local connection) then the local authority has a legal duty to provide accommodation for the applicant, those living with them, and any other person who it is reasonable to reside with them. However, if the applicant does not have a local connection with the district of the authority then they may be referred to another local authority with which they have a local connection (unless it is likely that the applicant would suffer violence or threats of violence in that other area).
People have a "priority need" for being provided with temporary housing (and a given a 'reasonable preference' for permanent accommodation on the Council's Housing Register) if any of the following apply: (1) they are pregnant; (2) they have dependent children; (3) they are homeless because of an emergency such as a flood or a fire; (4) they are aged 16 or 17 (except certain care leavers who remain the responsibility of social services); (5) they are care leavers aged 18–20 (if looked after, accommodated or fostered while aged 16–17); (6) they are vulnerable due to, old age, a physical or mental illness or handicap or physical disability, or other special reason (such as a person at risk of exploitation); (7) they are vulnerable as a result of (a) having been in care (regardless of age),(b) fleeing violence or threats of violence (c) service in one of the armed forces, or (d) having served a custodial sentence or having been remanded in custody.
The accommodation may not necessarily be provided by the council and even where the "full" duty is owed the housing provided may at first be temporary accommodation: often bed and breakfast hotels are used for temporary accommodation, and Housing Associations for permanent accommodation.
Practical advice regarding homelessness can be obtained through the websites listed below. The Citizens Advice Bureau and some other charities also offer advice in person, by telephone, or by email. The Shelter provides advice about homelessness and other housing problems from the telephone number given on their website. In an emergency, a person contacts a local council. Thames Reach runs the London Street Rescue Service which provides support to people sleeping on the streets of the capital, additionally Broadway Outreach Teams provide Services on the streets of the City, Kensington and Chelsea and Heathrow Airport.
More recently Shelter have also moved to the social care field, offering advice and support to families with social needs, offering advocacy and support with Social requirements including co-ordination of multi agency approaches.
The official figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government for England (not including the rest of the UK) are that on average 498 people sleep rough each night, with 248 of those in London. There are a total of 84,900 households (which may contain more than one person) that are classified as homeless.