01 Jul 24

Some 8,000 people were forced to sleep rough for the first time in London last year, an increase of 25% on the previous year. 

And a charity says more than one in five of them were previously privately renting before becoming homeless.

Figures from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) show that the number of people sleeping rough for the first time in London rose to 7,974 in 2023/24, up from 6,391 in 2022/23 – an increase of 25%.

There were 11,993 people seen sleeping rough across 2023/24, up from 10,053 in 2022/23 – an increase of 19%.

And more than 1 in 5 (22%) people sleeping rough for the first time had previously been renting privately before being forced onto the street.

Homelessness charity Crisis is calling on the next government to establish an Office for Ending Homelessness in its first 100 days to coordinate a cross-government plan to end homelessness, including measures on delivering genuinely affordable homes.

It says immediate actions should include unlocking existing housing through measures to tackle empty homes, and converting unused commercial space into high quality, settled homes would help make more social homes. 

Alongside this, Crisis wants to see a rollout of specialist support for people with multiple and serious support needs through investment in a national Housing First programme. This would help people rebuild their lives away from the streets and temporary accommodation, which far too many of us are trapped in.

Charity chief executive Matt Downie says: “These figures are deeply shameful and highlight the desperate need for the next government to get a grip on this crisis. Right now, we’re in a perfect storm: sky-high rents, a dire shortage of affordable housing and increased living costs are pushing more people onto the streets. 

“For thousands, this means long nights of trying to stay safe, moving from night bus to night bus or bedding down in a noisy doorway where sleep is all but impossible. None of us should have to experience this. But the next government has the power to change things.”

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