The last five years has seen a 49 per cent increase in the number of homeless children in the capital, meaning an estimated 87,310 will wake up on Christmas morning in temporary accommodation, according to housing charity Shelter.
Approaching 4,500 of these will be living in a hostel for homeless people or bed and breakfast accommodation, often with a whole family in a single room, according to the charity’s latest analysis.
Shelter calculates that one in every 23 under 18-year-old in the capital is without a permanent or secure dwelling, compared with one in every 103 in Britain as a whole.
The charity says there is an average of 28 homeless children in every school in the capital, with teachers reporting “severe emotional trauma” arising from their circumstances. Practical difficulties include keeping track of possessions and school uniform, and staying clean due to limited access to laundry or bathroom facilities.
The worst-affected boroughs are Westminster, Haringey, Newham and Kensington & Chelsea where the rates of homelessness are between one in eleven and one in 12 among 0-17 year-olds.
In Enfield, Waltham Forest, Brent, Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham, Lewisham, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hackney, Lambeth and Redbridge the rates are between one in 15 and one in 20.
London boroughs fill all but one of the top 20 places in terms of rates of homelessness among children in the whole of England, according to the Shelter research.
The boroughs estimated to have the highest numbers of homeless children are Brent with 5,604, followed by Haringey (4,771), Enfield (3,882), Tower Hamlets (3,789), Croydon (3,119) and Barnet (3,061).
Shelter campaigns director Gary Beales said: “The impact on these young people cannot be overstated. Young children are sharing beds with multiple family members, trying to play in dirty public corridors, and having to leave their block in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. We hear about cold, damp, even rats.”
“No child should be homeless. But for the generation growing up in the housing crisis, this is the grim reality for many.”
Shelter supporters will take part in a 10 kilometre metre night-time fundraising walk across the city this evening, entitled Sleep Walk for Shelter. To support Shelter’s appeal, visit the Shelter website.