It’s feared there are thirteen times more hidden homeless people in London than those visibly sleeping rough.
Each night, up to 12,500 people are forced to to sleep on public transport, squatting or sofa surfing, according to a report published by the London Assembly.
The report adds that young people are most likely to be affected, especially those who identify as LGBT, as well as those who have experienced domestic violence and abuse. It estimated that 225,000 young people in London have stayed in an unsafe place because they had nowhere safe to call home.
People sleeping on the streets of our city are just the tip of an iceberg
The hidden homeless have no place to call home, but are hidden from official statistics, and aren’t receiving support. One in 10 people in London experiencing hidden homelessness in any one year.
Only one in five aged 16-24 seek help from the council. Those that do present often fail to be recognised as vulnerable, despite being in danger.
This report follows a recent claim by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan that, for the first time since 2009, there has not been a significant rise in rough sleeping in London.
Sian Berry AM, Chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee said: “People sleeping on the streets of our city are just the tip of an iceberg.
“The London Assembly Housing Committee investigation found a much wider problem of hidden homeless people in London who have no permanent home and live precariously.
— London Assembly (@LondonAssembly) September 27, 2017
“Young people, asylum seekers and people escaping domestic violence can find it hard to get help due to gaps in current policies, and many don’t even try to seek help. So-called sofa surfing is common and people can end up staying with virtual strangers where they are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
There are currently around 2,000 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.
“With the Homelessness Reduction Act coming soon, the Housing Committee wants to see more action on this problem. We need the Mayor and the Government to rally behind local authorities with support to reach every Londoner who needs help.”
This follows a damning investigation recently by National Audit Office recently, which slammed the government’s response to escalating levels of poverty across Britain, with the number of homeless households growing by 60 per cent in the past five years.
To have so many people homeless in 2017 is a national disgrace
Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, added: “Homelessness has risen steadily since 2010 according to official statistics and we know that the problem is acute in London. But as this report highlights there are many more people affected by homelessness that we don’t know about.
“To have so many people homeless in 2017 is quite simply a national disgrace and something we must act on now. History tells us that we can significantly reduce homelessness, but it will take a cross-departmental commitment from government and a strategic approach to tackle all of its causes.
“It is also very clear that local authorities across the capital, and the country, will need support to deliver the new duties imposed upon them by the Homelessness Reduction Act.”