People sleeping rough

Date 1 September 2017
Date updated 20 April 2020

People sleeping rough in London by nationality (2011/12 - 2018/19)

The number of people sleeping rough in London has more than doubled in a decade. Some 8,855 people were recorded sleeping rough in the capital in 2018/19 compared to 3,472 in 2008/09. 

Most people sleeping rough are white, although the number of BAME people sleeping rough has risen faster than the number of white people. Of the people whose nationality is known, around half are British citizens, with EU citizens making up most of the rest. A large majority (84%) of people sleeping rough in London are men.

The majority of rough sleeping takes place in Central London. This has been the case for some time, but the proportion of people sleeping rough who do so in Central London has fallen from over two thirds in 2011/12 to just over a half in 2018/19. This has been primarily driven by a rise in rough sleeping in East London.

This information comes from CHAIN, a database about people sleeping rough in London maintained by charity outreach workers. It contains a record for everyone known to staff and volunteers throughout the specified year.  

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) also produces snapshot estimates of rough sleeping. These provide much lower estimates of rough sleeping, as they are based on a single night, rather than across a full year.

People sleeping rough by London Plan area (2011/12 - 2018/19)

People sleeping rough in London by ethnicity (2008/09 - 2018/19)

People sleeping rough in London by gender (2008/09 - 2018/19)