The number of new people sleeping rough in London during the spring and early summer has risen by 12% compared to the same period last year.
Data from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (Chain) reported a total of 3,272 individuals sleeping rough in the capital, representing a 9% increase from April to June 2022.
Shockingly, 1,614 of these individuals were recorded as sleeping rough for the first time during the mentioned period, a significant surge from the previous year’s figure of 1,446 new rough sleepers.
Different Categories of Rough Sleepers:
Chain’s data provided insights into the different categories of rough sleepers in London.
Of the recorded individuals during the three-month period, 38% were classified as living on the streets, while 19% slept rough for multiple nights but did not end up living on the streets permanently.
Additionally, 79% spent only one night sleeping rough.
The Government’s Struggle to Address the Issue:
The UK Government’s efforts to tackle rough sleeping have faced significant challenges.
In September, it published the “Ending Rough Sleeping For Good” strategy, reiterating its commitment to eradicating rough sleeping by the end of the current parliamentary term.
However, the rising numbers of new rough sleepers have made achieving this target seem increasingly unlikely, drawing criticism from homelessness advocacy organizations.
Calls for Preventive Measures and Legislation:
Homelessness support organizations have urged the government to prioritize prevention measures, such as raising the local housing allowance to cover at least the lower third of rents.
They have also emphasized the urgency of enacting the Renters Reform Bill to enhance renters’ security and stability.
Consequences of the Housing Crisis:
The rise in rough sleeping is part of a broader homelessness crisis in the UK.
Official government statistics released recently revealed that the numbers of households and children in temporary accommodation in England have reached record highs.
As of the end of March, 104,510 households were in temporary accommodation, the highest figure in 25 years.
The situation is especially dire for children, with 131,370 of them living in temporary accommodation, the highest level since records began in 2004.
The Need for a Comprehensive Plan:
Housing providers and homelessness support organizations stress the necessity of a national plan to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis across England.
A clear strategy is deemed essential to address the escalating challenges faced by London and other regions in finding solutions to homelessness and ensuring access to affordable housing.
The alarming increase in new rough sleepers in London highlights the severity of the homelessness crisis in the city and across England.
Advocacy groups and housing providers are urging the government to take immediate action to prevent further escalation and to enact legislation that ensures housing security for vulnerable individuals.
As the numbers of those experiencing homelessness continue to rise, a comprehensive national plan is crucial to address the root causes of the issue and provide real, long-term solutions to end homelessness for good.