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Record numbers of people sleeping rough in capital in 2019-2020 – Crisis response

Today (Wednesday 9 September) new figures show an increase of 21% in the number of people sleeping on the streets in London since the previous year.   

The annual figures from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) show that 10,726 people were sleeping rough between April 2019 to March 2020, up from 8,855 last year.   

The figures also show: 

  • A 28% increase in people sleeping rough for the first time compared with 2018/19. 
  • 38% (1276) of new rough sleepers’ last settled accommodation was a privately rented home 
  • A 14% increase in people living on the streets compared with 2018/19
    CHAIN data released last month also showed that the number of people newly sleeping rough between April-June 2020 rose by 77% from the same period last year.    

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “These figures reveal that, pre-pandemic, we were seeing record levels of people sleeping rough in the capital. Not only is this deeply alarming, but it shows just how dire the underlying situation was even before the coronavirus outbreak.  

“While Government action in the early weeks of the pandemic to get ‘Everyone In’ was a success and undoubtedly saved lives, the winding down of that commitment is seeing a resurgence in the number of people sleeping on our streets. With the eviction ban coming to an end and expectations of mass unemployment, tens of thousands could be pushed into homelessness.  

“Government must heed this wake-up call. With coronavirus cases rising, lives are at risk. As the cold winter months approach, we simply can’t see thousands of people sleeping rough, nor can we rely on crowded emergency night shelters where the risk of transmission is incredibly high. We urgently need emergency measures to protect everyone without a home from the outbreak. We must also tackle the root causes of homelessness, which include high rents and a lack of truly affordable housing, if we are ever to achieve the government’s goal of ending rough sleeping for good.”