Homeless and hidden from help – London’s secret homelessness problem

  • A new report out today estimates there are thirteen times more hidden homeless people in London than those sleeping rough - as many as 12,500 each night.
  • 225,000 young people in London have stayed in an unsafe place because they had nowhere safe to call home.
  • The hidden homeless have no place to call home, but are hidden from official statistics, and aren’t receiving support.
  • They may experience sofa surfing, sleeping rough, squatting or sleeping on public transport. This can be dangerous, and leave people at risk of assault or abuse.
  • Young people are especially likely to be affected, particularly those who identify as LGBT, as well as those who have experienced domestic violence and abuse.
  • Hidden homeless people are often ineligible for homelessness support, and only one in five aged 16-24 seek help from the council. Those that do present often fail to be recognised as vulnerable, despite being in danger.

The London Assembly Housing Committee publishes its report ‘Hidden homelessness in London‘ today, which you can read here. The report makes a number of recommendations to the Mayor and the Government, including:

  • The Government should ensure that legislation guarantees victims of abuse the right to remain in their homes, if they wish, rather than the perpetrator
  • The Government should provide sufficient financial support to London local authorities to ensure the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act.
  • The Mayor should push local authorities to automatically record the protected characteristics of those presenting at housing options services, so we can learn more about London’s homeless population.

We welcome your feedback to our findings and recommendations.

Sian Berry AM, Chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee said:

“People sleeping on the streets of our city are just the tip of an iceberg. The London Assembly Housing Committee investigation found a much wider problem of hidden homeless people in London who have no permanent home and live precariously.

In fact, 13 times more Londoners are hidden and homeless than are visibly sleeping rough.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. So-called sofa surfing is common and people can end up staying with virtual strangers where they are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

With the Homelessness Reduction Act coming soon, the Housing Committee wants to see more action on this problem. We need the Mayor and the Government to rally behind local authorities with support to reach every Londoner who needs help.”

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. But 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.

It is also very clear that local authorities across the capital, and the country, will need support to deliver the new duties imposed upon them by the Homelessness Reduction Act.”

Paul Noblet, Head of Public Affairs at Centrepoint, said:

“This report highlights an issue which goes unseen by the public and by many politicians at a local and national level.  Centrepoint’s own research indicates that official government statistics continue to significantly underestimate the number of homeless young people. Understanding the true scale and nature of homelessness is vital if we are to be able to tackle it, and to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to the task.

Many young people don’t know where to go for help when they are homeless. The Committee is right to call for TfL and other agencies across London to play a bigger role in signposting, for example through Tube and bus adverts, to help connect more young people to support services.

Crucially there must also be suitable services available for young people when they do ask for help. The Homelessness Reduction Act could play an important role in improving provision for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming so, but sufficient central government funding must be provided for local authorities to deliver their new duties under the Act, to ensure that the laudable ambitions of the policy are realised for the thousands of people that this report shows are desperately in need of more support.”

Read the report on our website here.


KPMG Report March 2017

In a recent report by KPMG, entitled Reimagining Housing, the vulnerabilities of the young and old are addressed, sensitively and meaningfully.

Discounted Accommodation For The Young - In the UK. 2 million people over 75 live alone - and whilst many have the desire and the ability to stay in their homes, problems of loneliness, ill health and vulnerability to crime are common. Many have spare rooms - representing housing stock wasted at a time of great accommodation shortages - and might welcome the companionship, security and support provided by a young lodger.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of young professionals and students live in 'houses of multiple occupation' - often poorly maintained, overpriced and shared with people placed by the landlord rather than chosen by tenant. There's obvious potential for synergies here.

Rather than paying £400-600 for a room in a shared house, young people could be offered discounted accommodation with an elderly person in exchange for a few hours a week - which could either be spent performing household tasks, or simply keeping their housemate company. The owner would benefit from an additional income as well as the companionship; and the younger resident could both help protect them from con-artists and burglars and sound the alarm if they fell ill. Chances are, the government would find itself saving money on care, health and policing costs, along with the benefits for tenants and owners.

The scheme could be extended to certain benefit claimants, most obviously young unemployed people eligible for HMO housing benefit; and at this point, there would be cash savings for the government. But the main aims would be threefold. To make better use of under-occupied housing stock and to reduce demand for HMOs, thus taking the edge off demand. To provide a cheaper alternative form of accommodation for those professionals and students who'd enjoy living with an older person. And to generate additional income, support in the home and human companionship for older people - many of whom are short of all three.

This isn't a big solution; just another tool to add to the mix. But it's one that could work well for everybody involved; and that alone should make it something worth pursuing.

Read the full report by clicking on this PDF link >> KPMG reimagine-housing-web-v4


BBC News April 2017

Rising rents creating more homeless

"Research by BBC London has found that the number of households made homeless due to private rented sector evictions has increased 600% since 2010, with increasing rents and cuts to benefits blamed for the surge. Councils have also increased spending on placing the homeless into temporary accommodation by an average of 60% over the same period. The number of families being made statutorily homeless in London stands at a 10-year high.”

Homelessness Sunday

Homelessness Sunday-page-001

Homelessness Sunday-page-002

For more information on Homeless Sunday please follow the link.

SIXTY YEARS for the average Londoner to afford a flat in Bromley, figures reveal ~The Bromley Times

A lack of affordable housing is leading to homelessness, charity claims

Click here for the full article.


Giraffe Trail

Thank you Tamasha Restaurant and the Rotary Club for nominating us for The Giraffe Trail. A big thank you to Green Street Green school for decorating our giraffe and helping us win first prize and £100. We are now in the process of auctioning it.


Volunteer Awards

volunteer awardsOn the 7th of June 2016, the office attended the Community Links Bromley's ninth Volunteer Awards ceremony at the Bromley Central Library. The event celebrated volunteering and voluntary activity by recognising the valuable input volunteers make to their local communities.

Our very own volunteer, Fabienne Brazzill won an award during the night in recognition of all the hard work she does for us.

It was a lovely evening organised by Community Links with good food and good company.

Congratulations to all the other winners of the night.

Donations from Lush

Thank you to Lush Bromley for their kind donations of soaps towards our clients.



Three-Times More Homeless Young People Rely On Services Than Government Records Show

More than three times as many homeless young people a year are estimated to be relying on charities and councils for a roof over their heads across the UK than officially recorded by the government, according to new research by the University of Cambridge, commissioned by the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint.

An estimated that 83,000 homeless 16-24 year-olds relied on the support of councils and charities in the UK in 2013-14, the last complete year of available data, compared to just 26,852 recorded by statutory homelessness figures compiled by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and authorities in the devolved nations.

* Over 83,000 homeless young people have been accommodated by local authorities or homelessness services during 2013-14

* Nine per cent of UK young people have slept in an ‘outside’ place in the last year, including on the street, in car parks or parks, because they had nowhere else to go

* 26 per cent of UK young people have slept in an unsafe place because they had nowhere else to go. This equates to an estimated 1.3m young people aged 16 to 24

* 35 per cent of UK young people have experience of sofa surfing which would suggest over a million nationally

Read the full research here

Hostels were found to be almost always full or over-subscribed, with around 35,000 young people in homeless accommodation at any one time across the UK.

The government’s official homelessness statistics only record the number of homeless young people local authorities have a statutory duty to house – which in England, Wales and Northern Ireland includes only those in ‘priority need’ such as young parents, under-18s or care leavers.

As a result, thousands of young people who do not fit the narrow categories go unrecorded, even if they have been rough sleeping - the most widely recognised manifestation of homelessness.

The statutory figures also only include those accepted as newly homeless and therefore do not take account of those already homeless at the start of the year.

Researchers plugged the gaps in government data by analysing a range of sources on young people in social housing and hostel bed spaces, as well as interviews with 40 local authorities.

Other key findings:

* In London, more than 17,000 homeless young people were estimated to have been housed by councils and charities

* The number of homeless young people housed in England (63,976) is far greater than Scotland (12,107), Wales (4,133) and Northern Ireland (3,025)

Centrepoint’s Director of Policy, Balbir Chatrik

Balbir Chatrik, Centrepoint’s Director of Policy, said: ‘Successive governments have been making policy in the dark as they have failed to grasp the sheer scale of youth homelessness in the UK.

‘We’re seeing the consequences of funding decisions based on this lack of knowledge, which have placed extreme pressure on charities and local authorities, with the majority of hostels full or oversubscribed.

‘Young people typically find themselves facing homelessness through no fault of their own. As a society we owe them a national safety net devised from more than just guess work.

‘In Scotland, local authorities already have to record and support all homeless people, even if are not in a priority need group. This shows it can be done, and it’s time that the rest of the UK followed suit.

‘Smarter funding decisions now will save the taxpayer money. With a safe place to stay and support from charities like Centrepoint, homeless young people can find work and make a future for themselves. We must not right them off simply to balance the country’s books.’

A very successful AGM
AGM 2016

We had a very successful and well attended Annual General Meeting on 12th May with guest speaker, Ed Tree from the Bromley Homeless Shelter.

We are all really looking forward to the future of the LATCH Project.

Lloyds Bank Community Fund


A big thanks to all our supporters who voted for us in the Lloyds Bank Community Fund.  During the public vote, 4,375 votes were cast and we came 2nd in the public vote, winning £2k.

This money will make such a difference and will enable LATCH to continue finding safe homes for 16 to 25 year old's in the London Borough of Bromley.

The Lloyds Bank Community Fund was set up to help local people across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man to have a positive impact at the heart of their community by giving grants to 1,400 local good causes in 350 communities.

Nearly 1.5 million votes were cast for good causes across the country during the voting that took place between 2 September and 10 October. Over 700,000 people will be benefit either directly or indirectly from the good work the 1,400 good causes across the country will be able to deliver as a result of receiving a Community Fund 2014 award.

Big Lottery Funding


The LATCH Project recently received grant funding from the Big Lottery Fund to provide Moving in Starter Packs for all new clients.

The starter packs consist of bed linen, bedding, toiletries and towels.  As a result of this funding we can now also supply our clients with basic living appliances and kitchen utensils when they move onto independent living.


Natasha was one of our first clients to benefit from the Big Lottery grant.  Natasha came to LATCH in November 2010 as her family moved to Devon and she wanted to stay in Bromley to continue her education.  Once placed with a LATCH host, Natasha started having mentoring sessions with Positive Pete and started working full time in a betting shop.  Natasha did so well that she was put forward for her own property with Affinity Sutton and in August 2014 she moved into her own, one bedroom flat.

In October this year, Natasha was delighted to receive various kitchen utensils and household items from LATCH.

Natasha is a different person now to the one we first met.  She took all the support she was offered by LATCH and has become a confident, independent young woman.

Sainsbury's Local Charity

sainsbury_sWe are delighted to announce that Sainsbury's in Beckenham recently chose The LATCH Project as its local charity partner. Earlier this year, Sainsbury's customers nominated their favourite local charities and LATCH was chosen after Nici Moran, LATCH Director and three other charity finalists gave a presentation to the Sainsbury's Local Charity Committee Panel.  Sainsbury's, Beckenham will support LATCH over the next 12 months through fundraising & volunteering.

Evening Standard (October 2014) - Charities' vital help for homeless

In response to the article, Welfare cuts ‘leave councils with huge bill to put families in hotels’, please click here to read LATCH's letter to the Editor of the Evening Standard.

LATCH Newsletter

To view our latest newsletter, please click here.  If you would like to receive our newsletter by email, please send us a message using this link LATCH Newsletter by email.