13 July 2020

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released today shows the number of recorded coronavirus deaths of homeless people in England and Wales up to 23 June, with most deaths occurring in London and the North West.

According to the figures, six people in London died from the virus, while three deaths were recorded in the North West. There were no homeless deaths in the whole of Wales.

The ONS said that the majority of the victims were men, but it told Inside Housing that it could not provide a breakdown based on gender or the regions where the remaining seven deaths took place without potentially identifying individuals.

The average age of homeless men dying of COVID-19 was 58, considerably lower than the average age of deaths in the general population, which is 79.

The average age for a homeless man to die in 2018 was 45, while for a woman it was 43.

A homeless person is defined by the ONS as someone with “no fixed abode” or who was staying in a known homelessness shelter at the point of death.

The data on deaths in the homeless population has been specifically pulled together for the government in response to the coronavirus crisis, with the official statistics for all homeless deaths in 2020 expected in late 2021.

Commenting on the figures, Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said that every one of the deaths was a tragedy and gave a stark reminder of the risk homeless people face from the virus.

However, he said that the situation could have been much worse and praised the work of the government, local authorities and charities for working quickly to move those sleeping rough into temporary accommodation.

In the early weeks of the outbreak local authorities moved to block-book hotels and secure other temporary accommodation to house rough sleepers in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.

Since then the government has estimated that around 5,400 rough sleepers have been placed in hotels across the country.

Mr Sparkes said: “This undoubtedly saved lives. We must now build on this. We need emergency homelessness legislation to guarantee everyone experiencing homelessness has the security of a safe and settled home.

“Without this, people risk being forced back on our streets or into crowded shelters, with the danger posed by the virus still very real.”

Ministers have pledged £105m to prevent those taken off the streets during the crisis from going back to rough sleeping.

Source: Inside Housing