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Rough sleeping rises in London despite pandemic effort - Crisis responds

Today, Wednesday 30 June, the annual Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) statistics for 2020/21 have been published, showing levels of rough sleeping across London between April 2020 and March 2021.

Key statistics include:

  • A total of 11,018 people were seen rough sleeping in London during 2020/21. This is a 3% increase compared to the total of 10,726 people seen in 2019/20. 
  • 7,531 people were seen rough sleeping for the first time this year, ​representing 68% of all people seen sleeping rough. This is a 7% increase on the number of new rough sleepers in 2019/20. 
  • New rough sleepers are the group which has shown the greatest increase compared to 2019/20.
  • There has been a 94% increase in rough sleeping numbers since 2011/12 (5,678) to 2020/21 (11,018).

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “It’s dreadful to see an increase in the numbers of people sleeping on our streets. Although this year’s rise is modest it is worth taking a step back and noting that in the past decade rough sleeping numbers have increased by a shocking 94%.

“There is nothing inevitable about this. Last year we saw brilliant but short-lived measures that dramatically reduced the numbers of people sleeping rough. But the commitments made at the start of the pandemic have fallen away and this progress is now in imminent danger of being lost. 

“As the Government looks ahead to restrictions lifting across the country and the return to ‘normal’ life, it is unacceptable that we are seeing a return to pre-pandemic levels of rough sleeping across London. We are supposed to be building back better. We cannot and should not tolerate a society where people are left with no option but to bed down in doorways and underpasses. 

“We need long-term solutions if we are to end rough sleeping for good. This must be led by a national strategy that commits to help everyone, no matter where they were born, and delivers genuinely affordable housing and programmes like Housing First for people with complex support needs. Without this, we will see people who were helped off the streets during the pandemic, and those at risk of homelessness due to the financial pressures it has unleashed, left at risk and with nowhere to go.” 


CHAIN data: