The statutory homelessness data shows 13,130 households were accepted as homeless by local authorities in Q1 2012.
There were 11,350 applicant to local authorities classed as homeless in Q1 2011, itself an 18% increase on Q1 2010.
During the 2011/12 financial year, 50,290 households were accepted by local authorities as being owed the main homelessness duty, an increase of 14% from 44,160 in 2010/11.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, says homelessness is rising with many families struggling to stay in their homes.
He says: “These shocking figures show that yet again homelessness is rising.
“With high unemployment, cuts to the housing safety net and the rising cost of living all taking their toll, there’s a real concern that thousands more families will face the same nightmare in the coming months and years.”
Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey says Britain is in the middle of a housing crisis.
He says: “Today’s figures show the collapse in housebuilding, alongside the government’s failed economic policies, has led to an acute crisis with more young people and families stuck in temporary accommodation or bed and breakfasts.
“Rather than attempt to spin his way out of these figures, Grant Shapps should see this as a wake-up call. He needs to change course.”
Housing minister Grant Shapps did not refer to the increase when unveiling a small government pledge of £3.4m to provide advice to homeless people and those at risk of losing their home.
The money is being given to the National Homelessness Advice Service ran by Shelter and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
It will provide help with mortgage debt and money advice for those at risk of repossession, legal services and training for advisers.
The figures come just a day after government data showed a 68% collapse in affordable house building year on year.