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Homeless levels in London’s richest borough branded ‘shocking’ by charity boss

Kensington & Chelsea has the third highest rate of homelessness in the UK, according to a report by Shelter.

The homeless charity found one in 29 people are sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation in the borough, despite it being the wealthiest in London.

The numbers without a home increased by 4% nationwide in the past year with the highest levels found in London where one in 52 people are recorded as being homeless.

Shelter CEO Polly Neate said: “It’s unforgivable that 320,000 people in Britain have been swept up by the housing crisis and now have no place to call home.

“These new figures show that homelessness is having a devastating impact on the lives of people right across the country.”

Hammersmith and Fulham was ranked as 13th, Lambeth 16th, Wandsworth 19th, Croydon 20th and Kingston Upon Thames 25th.

Glass Door, a charity that offers emergency shelter in churches in west and south west London, also criticised the level of homelessness.

Glass Door chief operating officer Lucy Abraham said: “The numbers are shocking, but behind the numbers are thousands of individuals – each with their own story.

“Many are struggling against a backdrop of high rents, plummeting levels of social housing, and a deteriorating welfare system.

“More people than ever before trying to get a space in our winter night shelters.”

Up to 130 individuals found a safe place to sleep with the charity from early November to early April, across Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Richmond and Wandsworth.

The charity reports that 20% of those that stay with them are women, with the youngest aged 18 and the oldest 71.

When the shelters opened for winter on November 5, a third more people came looking for shelter compared to the same period last year.

Ms Abraham said: “No one should have to sleep on the streets of London in this day and age.

“We are heartened to find many people coming forward to help tackle this scandal of homelessness in our communities.

“The challenge is that our work can feel like it’s never done.”

Glass Door reported that as soon as they shelter or rehouse someone, there are nine other individuals looking to fill that person’s spot.

“We are doing all we can, but we can’t do it alone. We rely on the support of many individuals, business and churches in the community,” Ms Abraham added.

Youth homelessness charity Centre Point reported 670 young people as homeless or at risk in Kensington and Chelsea.

Centrepoint’s Chief Executive Seyi Obakin said: “The government has been increasingly vocal on the issue of homelessness but without extra funding for councils to meet their new obligations they are risking setting councils up to fail.”

St Cuthbert’s Centre is a drop-in day centre for marginalised and vulnerable people in the Earl’s Court area.

They provide a free lunch to between 50 and 80 people a day, with around 60% presenting as rough-sleepers.

Despite the high-numbers of homelessness in Kensington & Chelsea, Shelter lists only 20 people as rough sleeping.

A St Cuthbert’s spokesperson said: “Those figures seem strikingly low as there are potentially many more rough sleepers based on the numbers that we see.”

They added that there has always been plenty of rough sleeping centres in the borough which could explain why the numbers classified as sleeping rough seems low.

A Kensington and Chelsea Council spokesperson said: “We’re doing everything we can to prevent and combat homelessness, working smarter and building relationships with social and private landlords.

“We have an ambitious plan to build 600 new homes.”

Picture: charitynavigator.org

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