The Green Party’s co-leader and mayoral candidate is petitioning for a dedicated emergency homeless shelter for the under 25s.
During questioning by Siân Berry at City Hall on November 19, Mayor Sadiq Khan admitted there was no specialist provision for teenagers and young people in London this winter.
Khan told the Green Party assembly member that funding for separate emergency hotel accommodation for the under 25s had been shelved due to a lack of funds.
“I’m raising the alarm today that a real crisis is coming for young people,” Berry said.
“We are already seeing an historic high of under-25s forced to live on the streets.
“The informal support struggling young people normally rely on from family and friends is much harder to find under coronavirus restrictions.
“I am hearing warnings from all over London, from homeless outreach workers and youth services supporting young people, that homelessness and rough sleeping is rising and getting worse.
“The mayor has admitted there is no dedicated space within his emergency accommodation programmes for young people, and this had to change.
“Following my questions today he has now promised to investigate and l hope he will implement practical help, backed up with ring-fenced funding, before winter sets in and young people facing the brunt of this crisis are permanently harmed.”
In August we reported that just six people were believed to be sleeping on Southwark’s streets after a huge coordinated effort to protect homeless people from the virus.
Southwark Council, working with the Greater London Authority and partners including hotel chains and charities, had found emergency accommodation for 539 people, 420 of whom had been moved into longer-term housing.
But their efforts are now being scuppered by rising youth employment and the end of the evictions ban.
Between July and September, the number of young people sleeping rough were 47 per cent higher than during the same period last year.
More than one in ten rough sleepers are now under 25 – the highest proportion ever recorded.
It is believed that along with the return of evictions, COVID-19 rules have prevented friends and extended family from offering help, leading to many people who would otherwise form part of the sofa surfing ‘hidden homeless’ increasingly bedding down in parks and under railway arches for the first time.