Hundreds of homeless people have died in the UK over the past year, an investigation has discovered.
More than 440 people have died on the streets or in temporary accommodation since October 2017.
They include a former soldier and an astrophysicist who died in shop doorways, in tents in woodland and hostels.
The figures, compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), have been condemned as a “national disgrace’ by charities.
They blame the rising problem on homelessness on austerity, high private rents and a shortage of social housing.
Of the 449 deaths uncovered by the BIJ, 69 per cent were men, 21 per cent were women and the gender of 10 per cent was not recorded.
The worst month was January this year, when 33 homeless people died and causes of death included violence, illness, suicide and drug overdoses.
Victims ranged in age from 18 to 94, with the average death age 49 for men and 53 for women.
There are no official systems for recording the deaths of homeless people and the BIJ says its figures may be an underestimate.
The investigation has prompted the Office for National Statistics to request access to the BIJ database to produce their own estimates.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said: “This is a wake-up call to see homelessness as a national emergency.”
His counterpart at the charity Shelter, Polly Neate, said: “Rising levels of homelessness are a national disgrace.
“It is utterly unforgivable that so many homeless people are dying unnoticed and unaccounted for.”
Housing Minister James Brokenshire told last night’s Channel 4 News that the figures were “utterly shocking.”
He announced today that a £20m fund would be made available to councils to help those at risk of homelessness secure rented accommodation.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it was investing £1.2bn to tackle homelessness.