People sleeping out need specialist supportDid you know? Homelessness is extremely harmful to people’s well being and health. Sleeping rough shortens life spans by 30 years, with people likely to die at 47, compared with 77 for the general population. As well as being dangerous to 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. Why people end up homeless is complex. People come from all walks of life but most have experienced significant trauma 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.