More than 3,000 people sleep on the streets of London during the third lockdown, half of them for the first time
- About 3,002 rough sleepers were identified by outreach teams in London
- More than half (52 percent) of rough sleepers did this for the first time
- Charity Crisis warned that vulnerable groups are still falling through the cracks
More than 3,000 people slept rough on the streets of the capital during the third coronavirus blockade, and more than half of them slept rough for the first time, figures show.
According to data from the Combined Homelessness And Information Network (Chain), approximately 3,002 rough sleepers were identified by outreach teams in London between January and March.
More than half (52 percent) of these slept rough for the first time, and 11 percent were known to live permanently on the streets of London, the figures show.
A rough sleeper rests at the entrance to the theater, closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in London, Monday, February 8, 2021
In January, as the country entered its third lockdown, the government urged local authorities to ‘redouble their efforts’ to house safely sleeping people as part of the Everyone In initiative
The total number of rough sleepers recorded in this quarter was down nearly a fifth (19 percent) from the same quarter in 2020, and dropped 9 percent from September to December.
In January, as the country entered its third lockdown, the government urged local authorities to ‘redouble their efforts’ to house people asleep safely as part of the Everyone In initiative.
The chain figures show that 1,587 people were placed in emergency shelters between January and March, 72 percent more than in the previous quarter.
The Salvation Army said the decline in the number of rough sleepers reflects the success of these efforts and warns that the number will increase if support structures placed due to the pandemic are removed.
Lorrita Johnson, the Salvation Army’s director of homelessness services, said: “ While real progress has been made as part of the Everyone In initiative and other schemes to help prevent and alleviate homelessness during the pandemic, it is vital that we keep the momentum going and make sure -term investment for homelessness services.
“This is critical, as an economic downturn will likely mean that more people will be forced to sleep in the streets in the months and years to come.”
The charity crisis warned that vulnerable groups still walk through the divide, particularly those who do not rely on public funds (NRPF), amid confusion as to whether they can be legally supported.
Crisis urged councils to heed a recent Supreme Court ruling on the matter, which stated that crude sleepers who would not normally qualify for aid during the pandemic could receive emergency housing.
Crisis director Jon Sparkes said: “It is very worrying that we entered the new year and a third national lockdown with more than 3,000 people sleeping on the streets and 316 people living this way day in and day out.
‘Sleeping rough is unacceptable at any time, but we must remember that this was the case when coronavirus cases accelerated rapidly and the temperatures freeze, meaning this situation was all the more dangerous and deadly.
While fewer people slept rough during this time because the councils did everything they could to get everyone in, people kept falling through the cracks, largely because of their immigration status.
“The same problem still arises, so we must emphasize that while the threat of the virus remains among us, we are urging the councils to continue to provide safe abode for everyone in accordance with the recent Supreme Court ruling.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Neighborhoods and Local Government said: “ We have housed 37,000 people so far during the pandemic through our ongoing Everyone In initiative, and we expect municipalities to continue to ensure that all rough sleepers are safely supported.
“We will continue to work with municipalities, charities and other partners to protect the most vulnerable and provide more than £ 750 million this year alone to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.”