Huge increase in number of London’s homeless
A voluntary organisation working with homeless people has found several hundred rough sleepers in Central London, challenging estimates made by both Westminster Council and central Government.
The Simon Community found 263 homeless people sleeping rough in Central London – 194 of whom were in Westminster – shattering claims that the number of rough sleepers is falling.
Westminster Council’s latest street count claimed the number of rough sleepers had decreased by more than 20% – from 89 to 69 – since March. But in the early hours of Saturday 1st November the Simon Community carried out its twice yearly headcount of people sleeping rough in Central London, and found three times that number – despite the cold weather.
The count was carried out in the 8 Inner London boroughs of: Westminster, City, Southwark, Camden, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Kensington and Chelsea and Islington.
The last count occurred in April 2008 when 165 people were counted sleeping rough in the same areas.
The Simon Community’s count was carried out in the same way as official counts undertaken by government departments.
It is also only of those who were visible at the time of counting, and did not include those who sleep in parks, disused buildings or other places not accessible to those doing the count – meaning that the true figures will be even higher.
From later in the article:
Westminster Council has also faced accusations from churches and others that it is using jet sprays to wash rough sleepers, and prevent them bedding down.
The controversial practice, known as “wetting down” or “hot washing”, was examined by the Centre for Housing Policy at York University.
Westminster is one of the few local authorities to use the deterrent. Some reports suggest cleaners are deliberately soaking people with hoses to force them away from problem areas.