Facts about homelessness

homeless person on the street with a sleeping bag with two people chatting to him
The average homeless person has a life expectancy of just 47 years compared to 77 for the rest of the population

Here are some facts about homelessness:

  • A quarter of homeless people in Westminster cited that they originally slept rough because they were asked to leave or were evicted from their previous accommodation
  • Homelessness is extremely harmful to people’s well being and health. Sleeping rough shortens life span by 30 years, with people likely to die younger at 47, compared with 77 for the general population.
  • As well as being dangerous to someone’s health, it is also expensive for people to sleep out and costs £30K a year in specialist support services. This is why preventing instances of homelessness, and catching people early, is crucial for the long term well being of our clients while also being financially advantageous.
  • Early intervention is the most effective way to help newly homeless people off the streets. Our Street Outreach team works with the Mayor of London’s No Second Night Out scheme so people do not have to spend a second night on the streets.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse are common causes of death within homeless populations accounting for a 1/3 of all deaths.
  • Why people end up homeless is complex. People come from all walks of life but the majority have experienced significant trauma in their childhood or early adult years which they’ve never recovered from. Homelessness is often triggered by changes to someone’s structural circumstances, for instance a lack of affordable housing or unemployment, combined with personal changes which commonly include relationship breakdown, poor mental or physical health and having grown up in care.
  • Nearly 25% of England’s homeless people are in Westminster. People are often drawn to central London because of opportunities and the prospect of starting their lives afresh. However, if these opportunities do not materialise then the chance of sleeping rough is very likely.
  • Rough sleeping in London has more than doubled in the last six years due to a variety of reasons including shortages of affordable and supported housing, changes to benefit entitlements and the ongoing effects of the economic downturn which has made finding work more competitive.
  • The average monthly rent in London soared by 11.2% to £1,412 making the private rented sector increasingly inaccessible for homeless people on low incomes.