“New Generation Z” of young people rough sleeping in London

Posted on: 27 June 2024

New stats show a 19% rise in people seen rough sleeping in London in the last year. The overall figure now stands at 11,993 – which includes 1,126 young people. People aged 25 and under make up 9% of those sleeping rough in the capital.

Youth homelessness charities, Centrepoint and New Horizon Youth Centre say the situation has reached worrying levels and it’s effectively creating a “new generation” of rough sleeping. Both are urging the next government to fully fund a plan to end rough sleeping in London and across the country.

Information in the report is derived from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN), a multi-agency database recording information about rough sleepers and the wider street population in London. CHAIN, which is commissioned and funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and managed by Homeless Link, represents the UK’s most detailed and comprehensive source of information about rough sleeping.

Centrepoint and New Horizon Youth Centre say ending youth homelessness would go a long way to ending overall rough sleeping. Around half of those rough sleeping as older adults were first homeless before the age of 25 (Source: Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 2020).

Alicia Walker, Head of Policy, Research and Campaigns at Centrepoint said:

These figures are devastating. Charities and political leaders have been trying to end rough sleeping, but the problem is getting worse and the impact on the next generation is simply appalling.

Beneath these numbers are the real stories of young people forced into unsafe situations, facing abuse, violence and sexual assault on the streets of our capital city.

The next Prime Minister needs to commit to a fully funded cross-government strategy to end youth homelessness. They must ensure local authorities have the resources needed to support those coming forward for help, build at least 90,000 social homes a year, including 40,000 one-bedroom properties, and break down the barriers for young people trying to get into work.”

Phil Kerry, Chief Executive at New Horizon Youth Centre:

We are seeing more young people come through our doors than any time in our 57-year history. Now, over 40% of young people are rough sleeping when they first come to us, up from a third the year before.

Just last week, amongst many others, we met a young woman who’d been kicked out suddenly by her mother for being LGBTQ+ and had nowhere else to go, and a young man whose relationship broke down with his family and is now sleeping in a shopping centre. But with only 12 housing advice appointments a day for up to the average 60 young people who come to us daily, we are really struggling to support all the young people who need it.

There are far too many young people all across London leaving services like ours every day who are given sleeping bags, food packs and waterproof ponchos and must fend for themselves overnight, because there is literally nowhere else for them to go.

The data that CHAIN is showing should massively alarm every single politician and decision maker in Whitehall and beyond. Curbing the trend of youth homelessness will play a huge part in ending homelessness overall.”

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London Post

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