No room for complacency

We are in danger of becoming too complacent about the challenge of people sleeping rough in London. It’s true that during the early days of the pandemic a huge number of people were moved off the street, but this does not change the fact that significant numbers of people are sleeping rough for the first time and are living on the streets, and there are signs that the situation is worsening.

  1. We are still seeing thousands of people sleeping rough on the streets of London

3,444 people were recorded as sleeping rough in London between July and September 2020. That’s significantly down on the 3,985 that were seen in the previous year, but as the chart below shows, there are still an unacceptably large number of people being seen sleeping rough.

  1. We are seeing no decline in the number of people sleeping rough for the first time

1,901 people were recorded as sleeping rough *for the first time* in London between July and September 2020. That’s barely down on the 2,069 that were seen in the previous year. As the chart below shows, there are still an unacceptably large number of people sleeping rough for the first time.

  1. More people are living on the streets

The first half of 2020 saw dramatic decreases in the number of people deemed to be living on the streets. The number halved in just half a year. However, we’re now seeing more and more people in this situation. 336 were recorded as living on the streets between July and September 2020, up from 264 between April and June.

  1. A huge number of people have been booked into covid emergency accommodation

None of this is to diminish the awesome achievements of the past year. Evictions have been suspended, housing benefit has been increased and thousands of people have been given temporary accommodation.

We can end rough sleeping in London including preventing people from sleeping on the streets for a single night and supporting people who are currently living on the streets to get a roof over their head. That needs to be our ambition. We cannot afford to be complacent.

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