New data released by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) highlights the highest number of rough sleepers in London ever recorded. The latest data reveals that between October and December 2023, outreach teams spotted 4389 people sleeping rough in London. This represents a 23% increase compared to the same period the previous year. With an 8% rise from the counts between July and September 2023.
The 4,389 figure surpasses the previous record of 4,227 observed between April and June 2020 amid the pandemic. Over the past decade, there has been a 71% increase in the total number of rough sleepers in London. In the same quarterly period in 2014, the count stood at 2,565.
Of the individuals included in this count, 52% were experiencing rough sleeping for the first time. Which reflects a 34% increase from the same period in 2022 and a 9% increase on the previous quarter. A significant majority of these new rough sleepers, 72%, spent only one-night rough sleeping. Nonetheless, 25% slept rough for more than one night without transitioning into long-term street living, while 3% were categorised as living on the streets. In comparison to the prior year, there is a notable rise in the proportion of first-time rough sleepers spending a single night on the streets, emphasising the urgency for early interventions to prevent the transition to long-term homelessness.
560 individuals were deemed to be living on the streets long-term, which is a 16% increase compared to the previous quarter and a 24% increase on this time last year. This count encompasses both individuals newly experiencing rough sleeping in London and those belonging to the RS205+ cohort. RS205+ refers to individuals recognised as particularly challenging to assist due to their extensive history of rough sleeping.
375 young people under the age of 25 were recorded sleeping rough. That is a 21% increase from the previous quarter and a 26% increase from the prior year. These numbers highlight the growing difficulties faced by young people in finding stable housing, emphasising the need for focused interventions and robust support systems to tackle this concerning trend.
This surge in homelessness necessitates prompt attention from policymakers, communities, and organisations. We must sustain and increase our support for the outreach teams, homelessness organisations, and local authorities tirelessly addressing this issue. Find out more about what you can do here.