Facts about homelessness

A person wearing grey trousers standing by the red door
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:

  • 4 new people find themselves homeless on the streets of Westminster every day. 1,137 people sleep rough on the streets of London every night.
  • The estimated number of rough sleepers in England rose by 169% between 2010 and 2017 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.
  • 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.
  • Early intervention is the most effective way to help newly homeless people off the streets. We work in partnership with homelessness services including StreetLink and 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.
  • 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.
  • It is increasingly difficult to find affordable accommodation for homeless people. For some people, private rented accommodation is the only option. This has challenges with many landlords not accepting tenants in receipt of housing benefit. There is also an increasing number of rogue landlords who provide poor quality housing not fit for habitation.