Alarming increase in the number of people sleeping rough in London

Wednesday, 31 October 2018 - 3:27pm

Data released today (31 October 2018) from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) database shows that the number of people sleeping rough in London has risen.

Between 1 July and 30 September 2018, 3,103 people were recorded as sleeping rough on the streets of London, 17% more than the same period in 2017 and 20% more than the period before.

Of these:

  • 45% were new people sleeping rough
  • 45% were intermittent (people who were seen sleeping rough before the period began at some point, and contacted in the period – but not regularly enough to be ‘living on the streets’)
  • 10% were living on the streets (those who have had a high number of contacts over 3 weeks or more). There has been a 10% reduction in these numbers compared to the same period last year.

Homeless Link's Chief Executive, Rick Henderson, commented:

“It is alarming to see such a dramatic rise in the number of people sleeping rough in London compared to the same period last year, especially the number of people there for the first time. We need to ask ourselves some tough questions about why so many are finding themselves with little choice but to bed down on the streets and concerted effort is required to ensure we have an effective safety net to prevent this.

“Sleeping rough is extremely dangerous and can seriously damage people’s health. As temperatures begin to drop, we strongly urge London’s local authorities to ensure they can provide sufficient emergency shelters over the winter, so nobody is left out in the cold.

"Rough sleeping is not just about losing a roof over your head. It is clear that with so many new people finding themselves on the streets there are structural causes of homelessness that need to be urgently addressed. These include action on reducing poverty, the chronic shortage of low-cost housing and ensuring everyone is supported by the welfare system.

"This is why we welcomed the Government's recent rough sleeping strategy and the Homelessness Reduction Act. Now we must see them both implemented swiftly and effectively so we can reverse these figures by preventing rough sleeping along with increased investment in support services and low-cost permanent housing so we can end homelessness for good."