UK

Thousands Of People 'Fall Victim To London's Hidden Homelessness Problem Each Night', Report Claims

Londoners are sofa-surfing, squatting and sleeping on buses.

27/09/2017 12:08 BST

As many as 12,500 people find themselves part of London’s ‘hidden homeless’ population each night - 13 times the amount who sleep on the streets, a new report has found. 

Thousands of people are being forced to sofa surf, squat or sleep on public transport each night, according to the London Assembly housing committee, leaving them vulnerable to assault or abuse. 

Authors of the report claim that 225,000 young people in London have slept in an unsafe place at some point because they had nowhere secure to call home. 

Adam Petto via Getty Images
There are as many as 12,500 hidden homeless people in London every night (file photo)

“People sleeping on the streets of our city are just the tip of the iceberg,” chair of the committee Sian Berry said on Wednesday. 

“Young people, asylum seekers and people escaping domestic violence can find it hard to get help due to gaps in current policies, and many don’t even try to seek help,” she added. 

According to the group, only one in five hidden homeless people aged between 16 and 24 will turn to the council for support, while those who do ask for assistance “often fail to be recognised as vulnerable, despite being in danger”. 

The London Assembly is urging London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the government to provide better financial support to local authorities so they can help the capital’s hidden homeless. 

MaxOzerov via Getty Images
People are squatting, sofa-surfing and sleeping on buses, a report by the London Assembly has found

They also want legislation that will allow victims of abuse to remain in their homes - rather than the abusers - and better measures to learn about London’s homeless population.  

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “Homelessness has risen steadily since 2010 according to official statistics and we know that the problem is acute in London.

“As this report highlights, there are many more people affected by homelessness that we don’t know about. To have so many people homeless in 2017 is quite simply a national disgrace and something we must act on now.

“History tells us that we can significantly reduce homelessness but it will take a cross-departmental commitment from Government and a strategic approach to tackle all of its causes.”