Homelessness in London: ‘Shocking’ rise in numbers of people sleeping rough for first time

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Around 625 women were seen sleeping rough, an increase of 25% on the previous three months.

The number of people sleeping on the streets of London has increased by 24%, with more than 3,600 people without shelter in the capital between June and September.

More than 50% are sleeping rough for the first time, according to new figures from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN).

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Homeless charity Crisis said the rise in families being forced from their homes across England is "deeply worrying".Homeless charity Crisis said the rise in families being forced from their homes across England is "deeply worrying".
Homeless charity Crisis said the rise in families being forced from their homes across England is "deeply worrying".

The rising cost of living, a spike in evictions, a decline in affordable housing and higher private rents were all cited as contributing factors by homelessness charities.

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, said: “These figures are frightening, and it is disastrous to see the incredible progress made during the pandemic evaporating before our eyes. Every case of rough sleeping is a person going through the trauma, danger and despair of life on the streets, and we see every day the severe consequences it has on the rest of people’s lives.

“Our services across the country are seeing rough sleeping and wider homelessness rising fast. This is made worse by the cost of living crisis - but let’s be clear that these dire economic times are only adding fuel to a crisis that has been burning away for years.

“The Government must take decisive action in the autumn statement to invest in housing benefit. This will stem the flow of people onto our streets, and help people who are homeless to afford a place to live. In the long run we need a concrete plan that will deliver the social homes we need to finally end homelessness for good. We know what it takes to prevent and end homelessness - there can be no excuse anymore.”

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Billy Harding, Centrepoint’s policy and research manager, called for solutions to the problem of London’s homelessness. “There are many reasons why people end up on the streets but the solutions are well-established.

“We need to see affordable housing being built, a benefit system that better reflects the true cost-of-living and sustained funding that supports local government and charities delivering homelessness services. Without that investment, the rising cost of energy, bills and accommodation will be matched with increased levels of street homelessness.”

Other findings from the data release include:

• 625 women were seen sleeping rough, an increase of 25% on the previous three months

• The number of people seen intermittently sleeping rough was 16% higher than the same time last year. We know from our own research that many people move frequently between unsuitable living situations and homelessness, including rough sleeping

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• The number of people deemed to be ‘living on the streets’ has also increased again (481 people), going up 13% compared to the same time last year

• 84% of those accommodated between July and September were placed in either temporary or emergency accommodation as councils struggling to find long term affordable homes.

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