New figures from the Greater London Authority (GLA) have shown a dramatic rise in rough sleeping during the pandemic. The 33% increase between April and June was recorded by outreach workers and reflects the worrying signs of a new wave of homelessness specifically related to the pandemic. Of the 4,227 individuals seen sleeping rough, 2,680 (63%) were sleeping rough for the first time.
City Hall has also reported that one in four private renters in London are struggling to keep up with their rent, with evictions due to resume in a two weeks. In response to the reports, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said, we are expecting a “tsunami of evictions… It would be a tragedy if thousands more find themselves homeless.”
Evolve Housing + Support CEO Jeremy Gray said:
“Rough sleeping is a very complex issue and we need stronger support networks to prevent greater rises. The pandemic has presented society with a new series of challenges.
“Rent arrears directly resulting from Covid-19, a collapsing economy and a lack of job opportunity threatens thousands of UK citizens. If we cannot overcome these issues, it will result in homelessness rising to new heights.
“Evolve highlighted these issues back in May and warned that Covid-19 was ‘causing an unprecedented rise in homelessness. People who were on zero hours contracts or in the entertainment and hospitality industry have lost their jobs in the thousands…’
“The Government must recognise and act on the GLA’s most recent data without delay. We need sufficient support to allow people to clear rent arrears or pay rent through via benefits systems, and an extension to the eviction ban. It is vital that we work to protect our communities and the people in them from losing their livelihoods and homes.”