'More than 210,000 children are estimated to be homeless, with some being temporarily housed in converted shipping containers, a report says.
The Children's Commissioner for England says that as well as the 124,000 children officially homeless, a further 90,000 are estimated to be "sofa-surfing".
Her report tells of families housed in repurposed shipping containers and office blocks, and whole families living in tiny spaces.
Councils blamed a £159m funding gap.
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said anyone who feels they have been placed in unsuitable accommodation should request a review.
The report, entitled Bleak Houses, found the use of shipping containers as temporary accommodation was leading to cramped conditions and inhospitable temperatures.
The Children's Commissioner, Anne Longfield, who visited children affected by homelessness, said it was sad and surprising to learn of the new developments councils were turning to in order to deal with the problem.
"Office block conversions, in which whole families live in single rooms barely bigger than a parking space, and shipping containers which are blisteringly hot in summer and freezing in the winter months," she said.
Although the report does not say where these shipping containers are being used, there are reports of them being converted for use in Bristol, Cardiff and west London.'
Read more: Shipping containers 'used to house homeless children'
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