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29% increase in people new to rough sleeping in London – Crisis responds

New figures released by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) show a steep rise in the number of people seen sleeping on the capital’s streets for the first time (1,700 people and nearly half of all people rough sleeping in the city) – an increase of 29% compared to the same period last year. This throws into sharp focus the impact the cost of living crisis and runaway rents are having on low-income households and highlights how many have been pushed to the brink.

Concerningly, the total number of people rough sleeping across London is also surging compared to the same time last year, with 3,570 people sleeping rough from October – December 2022 - an increase of 21%.

With social housing stock severely diminished and housing benefit frozen for the last three years, there is little to no protection for struggling households who can’t make ends meet, meaning thousands are being pushed into homelessness and life on the streets.

Other findings from the data release include:  

  • The number of people seen intermittently sleeping rough was 23% 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 
  • 451 people were deemed to be ‘living on the streets’, despite this being 8% lower than the same time last year it is an 8% increase compared to before the pandemic (October – December 2019.) 
  • 92% of those accommodated between October and December were placed in either temporary or emergency accommodation as councils struggle to find long term affordable homes.  

Crisis is bracing for a surge in demand for its services this year and is urging the public to donate what they can, as the charity estimates 300,000 households could be made homeless if no Government action is taken.

Responding to the figures Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, said: “It is simply disgraceful that the numbers of people forced to sleep on the capital’s streets is very nearly back to the record levels we were seeing before the pandemic. This shows a complete and utter failure to tackle rough sleeping, especially at this critical time when the cost of living crisis is pushing more people into homelessness. 

“It cannot be understated how gruelling, brutal and dangerous life on the streets is – we hear regularly from people who have been attacked, abused and cut off from society. Absolutely no one should be forced to live this way and yet the numbers new to rough sleeping are surging.  

“Enough is enough. The Westminster Government pledged to end rough sleeping by 2024 – if it wants to get anywhere near to this, we must see investment in housing benefit in the upcoming budget so people can afford to rent and keep a home. Long-term we need more social housing so we can end homelessness in all its forms for good. No more empty promises, people rough sleeping need to see action.”  

To stand with people facing homelessness and give them the chance of finding and securing a safe home you can donate to Crisis by visiting:

Notes to editors  

The latest CHAIN reports can be found here: