Rough sleepers in London: majority are British (54.1%); second in line EU citizens 2,323 (31.3%)

London – A total of 7.484 people have been registered as rough sleepers in London from April 2017 to March 2018. The figure is the outcome of the report published by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN), a multi-agency database, recording information about rough sleepers in the capital commissioned and funded by the Greater London Authority and managed by the charity St Mungo’s.

Where rough sleepers are from:

British citizens are the majority: 3.862 (54.1%); second in line the EU citizens 2,323 (31.3%) of which 1.677 from CEE – Central Eastern Europe, (Romania, 664, Poland 561 Lithuania 140, Bulgaria 101, Latvia 70, Other 141) and 646 from the rest of the EU – high numbers among Italians (126),  Irish  (119) and Portuguese (115). African origin are 6.4% while Asian are 416 (5.8%) of the total street population in London.

Overall, British and EU citizens are 6.185 of the total 7.484 rough sleepers in London.

126 italians (2)

Distribution of rough sleepers in London (UK) in 2017/18, by ethnicity:  65.2 white. (source Statistacompared to the ethnic breakdown of London population (Census 2011)

rough sleepers ethnic london (2)
                Breakdown of London population by ethnicity (Census 2011)

london etnic chart (2)

Though the proportion of rough sleepers from CEE countries decreased (23% this year, from 30% in 2016/17), the percentage is extremely high in relation to the overall number of EU citizens in London.

Main Causes:  

Unaffordable housing, evictions, family breakdown, mental health are the main causes of homelessness and rough sleeping in London.

Evictions are the cause behind the 36.2% of rough sleepers. Also related to housing 4,3% (housing benefits, debt) end of stay in short term accommodations (5.7%).

The unemployed, those who lost their job, people seeking for work and found themselves with no means and ended in the streets are 17%.

Family relationships breakdown have a high incidence, 14% along with those victim of domestic violence (3,7) Others are ending sleeping rough come from prison or hospital (5.3%).

Though apparently different, the causes converge to the same point of lack of help and connections which might help an individual not to end up sleeping in the streets. Family breakdowns affect in the first place the ability to find work, develop skills in a work environment and economy increasingly relationships based. 

If on the one side the housing and property market is being addressed and blamed as the main cause of rough sleeping (shorthold tenancies, no fault evictions, uncapped rents, crisis of council houses and housing associations, universal credit…), on the other jobs precarisation (zero hours contracts), low wages, reduced availability of long term jobs, work environment increasingly hostile due to excess of competition, are factors eliminating those without means, the poor, and those with no family or relationship support. This explain what happens not only to many British but also to many EU citizens who have no connections in a foreign country and then cannot sustain precarious jobs.

Therefore the roots of the problem stem in the first place from companies and property owners.