: How many homeless young people are there in London?
Quantifying homelessness is notoriously difficult.
It’s not simply a case of counting the number of people sleeping rough because there are also the hidden homeless; those trapped in temporary accommodation such hostels and shelters, or sofa surfing – spending a few nights crashing on floors and sofas before moving on.
There are also people who stay with friends and relatives but don’t think of themselves as being without a home.
The accuracy of the numbers for 2020-2021 is also likely to be distorted as a result of the Government’s Everyone In campaign, which saw local councils find homes for all rough sleepers, not only in London but across UK, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
How many homeless people are there in London?
To try to answer this question, we can present figures from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (Chain), which tracks the flow of rough sleeping in London over a longer period.
It involves multiple agencies making contact with people on the streets of the capital so that a more accurate picture can be built up of the extent of the crisis.
The Everyone In campaign may have swept people off the streets during the pandemic, but it hasn’t reduced the numbers of homelessness.
The most recent figures show a much higher number of people sleeping rough; 11,018 people were seen on the streets of London by outreach workers in 2020/21 – a significant increase on the 10,726 people spotted during the previous year.
Meanwhile, figures show the rough sleeping has almost doubled in the English capital in the past 10 years.
Their studies also showed a 10 per cent rise in the number of people who were seen occasionally sleeping rough but were not deemed to be living on the streets; 1,360 compared to 1,239.
Nevertheless, between July and September last year the number of people living on the streets and those occasionally living rough were both nine per cent lower than during the same period in 2019.
Overall, 3,307 people were seen sleeping rough at least once, a four per cent fall from the previous quarter when there were 3,444 people identified.
What percentage of London’s homeless are aged 16-25?
According to Chain, the number of 16 to 25-year-olds sleeping rough has risen to 368 in 2020 from 250 in the same period last year, an increase of 47 per cent.
Young people now make up 11 per cent of the capital’s rough sleepers, a figure charities described as “a historic high” that is well above the usual eight per cent.
Centrepoint’s new report, Beyond the Numbers: The Scale of Youth Homelessness in the UK, puts the shocking number of young people at the sharp end of the housing crisis under the spotlight and sets out recommendations to government and local authorities to combat this growing trend.
Centrepoint’s appointment of British entrepreneur and investor, Javad Marandi OBE, and financier Jamie Reuben is also part of their strategic approach to ending youth homelessness.
As the recently-appointed co-chairs of Centrepoint’s Growth Board, the duo is part of an ambitious plan to get to the root of the crisis.
This includes creating a databank to find out precisely where shortfalls in the system are, and how they can be addressed, and ensuring the welfare safety net – including Universal Credit – covers the real cost of renting locally.
The growth board is also at the forefront of Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme (ILP), which is the most important project ever undertaken in the youth homelessness charity’s 50-year history.
It’s a multi-million pound scheme that is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and is seen as a major innovation in the efforts to curb youth homelessness.
It will enable the most vulnerable young people to build sustainable careers without a simultaneous burden of market housing costs.
Indeed, research shows that once young people start sleeping rough it becomes harder for them to bounce back.
However, through ILP, Centrepoint’s commitment to building 300 homes across London and Greater Manchester aims to transform the prospects of those aged between 16 and 25 who struggle with, or are at risk of, homelessness.
Their outlook has improved with the help of Centrepoint’s frontline services, and with the benefit of entry-level jobs or apprenticeships those individuals will be able to live independently in modern, safe, and affordable homes while paying rents that are capped at around a third of their salary.
That means they’ll be able to look forward to a much brighter future.
The scheme is estimated to cost in the region of £1.5m, but if it’s the beginning of the end for youth homelessness then it’s worth every penny.