The number of people living on the streets in London rose by three per cent during the pandemic despite emergency efforts to protect those rough sleeping during the pandemic.
A total 11,018 people were seen sleeping rough in London between April 2020 and March 2021, an increase on the 10,726 people spotted by outreach workers and charities in the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) in the previous year. The figures show rough sleeping has almost doubled in the English capital in the last 10 years.
The rise comes despite the Everyone In efforts to protect rough sleepers in hotels and other emergency accommodation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s easy to think of this in broad numbers, but these are real lives, stories of people let down by a system that should protect themRick Henderson, Homeless Link chief executiveRick Henderson, Homeless Link chief executive
Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes has called for a national strategy to set out how the UK government can hit its target of ending rough sleeping by 2024.
“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,” said Sparkes.
“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.”