The startling results of city hall’s pilot project to address 'sleeping rough' is shedding light on the extent of homeless encampments in London.

Last fall the three-month “Informed Response” pilot project took a compassionate approach to complaints about people living outdoors in parks, alleys and along the Thames River.

In the past, homeless encampments were addresses through enforcement and removal. But the number of people living outdoors continued to grow.

The new coordinated effort between London Cares, city hall and police focused on outreach and respect.

Homeless people are connected with support, their possessions removed and stored free of cost. And enforcement is a last resort.

During the three-month Informed Response Program:

  • 93 individuals provided housing search support
  • 94 urban campsites were removed
  • 196 instances of “sleeping rough” addressed

In a new report, city staff recommend spending $1.25 million to re-launch the Informed Response Program from April until December 2019.

Permanent funding will likely be sought in the next multi-year budget.

But who exactly is “sleeping rough” in London? Informed Response found:

  • 71 per cent male, 29 per cent female
  • 94 per cent reported living with an addiction
  • 17 per cent have lived in London less than six months

City Council will receive the full report on the Informed Response pilot project next week.