The latest Combined Homelessness and Information Network (Chain) statistics show 3,107 people were spotted while homeless in London between January and March this year. That figure represented a 14 per cent rise on the 2,714 frontline workers counted in the same three months in 2022.
Almost half the people counted as street homeless were sleeping rough for the first time – 1,490 people were new to the streets – 15 per cent higher than the same period last year.
St Mungo’s chief executive Emma Haddad said rising homelessness reflected the impact of the rising costs of food, energy bills and rents and the numbers of people on the street are set to rise further without intervention.
“We are starting to see the full impact of the cost of living crisis, as more and more people become street homeless in London,” said Haddad.
“Rising rents and bills mean people are losing their accommodation, an ever-increasing number of people are presenting with more complex mental health issues, and people who have never been at risk of homelessness before are now sleeping rough.
The figures also showed a rise in the number of people deemed to be living on the streets long-term as well as people who sleep rough intermittently.
Frontline workers found 1,270 people were sleeping rough some of the time – up 17 per cent in a year.
A total of 376 people were deemed to be living on the streets, up from 363 people between January and March 2022.
Around one in ten of those seen sleeping rough in London are young people under the age of 25. The 257 young people spotted on the street was 11 per cent higher than the same period last year.
Balbir Kaur Chatrik, director of policy and communications at Centrepoint, said: “There continues to be far too many people forced to sleep rough in London and today’s release shows things are heading in the wrong direction.
“Overall, these sort of increases make it look very difficult for the government to reach its target of ending rough sleeping by 2024 and the human cost of that failure is quite profound. Reversing the trend won’t be easy but it is clear what needs to be done.”
“Rising costs have not just exacerbated long-term systemic causes of homelessness, such as a shortage of affordable housing and an unfit welfare system, the situation is also threatening homelessness services that are needed now more than ever,” said Colley.
“If the government is to meet its goal of ending rough sleeping in this parliament, it must grant a funding uplift to ensure services do not have to make cut backs or close their doors altogether, leaving people without vital support.”
A Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “
A DLUHC spokesperson said: “Rough sleeping remains well below pre-pandemic levels, but we know there is more to be done to end rough sleeping for good.
“That is why we committed £2 billion to support the three year cross-government strategy to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.
“This includes the Rough Sleeping Initiative, which is providing £162m in funding to councils in London. They have a duty to offer tailored support to vulnerable people, including help to access accommodation, support through Housing First and engagement with mental health and employment services.”
Urgent action is needed to prevent even more people being pushed into homelessness. A secure home is the first step in addressing the cruel cycle of poverty to ensure people can fulfil their potential. Join us to keep people in their homes.