London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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London County Council 1912

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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Report of the County Medical Officer—General.
YEAR 1912.
I. Report by the Medical Officer Submitting the Result of a Census of Homeless Persons
Taken on the Night of the 9th February, 1912.
In accordance with the instruction of the Public Health Committee the seventh census of
homeless persons in London was undertaken on the night of the 9th February, 1912. The following
table enables comparison to be made of the figures obtained for the several years from 1904 :—

Number of persons found homeless at night.

Date.Men.Women.Young Persons.Total.
29th January, 1904‡1,563184501,797
17th February, 19051,869312...2,181
8th February, 19071,99840242,404
15th January, 1909566170232,388
18th February, 1910732220172,747
17th February, 191176825621,785
9th February, 1912758213121,203

‡A smaller area than in later years. For purposes of comparison the total may be estimated at about
2,000 persons.
†Men or women accommodated for a few hours in shelters but unprovided with beds.
*160 of these men were in a shelter consuming soup and bread, but would be turned out immediately on
the conclusion of their meal.
In explanation of the above table it should be mentioned that in each case where the sets of
figures are shown in brackets for any one year, the uppermost set denotes the number of persons, presumably
homeless, found actually in the street on the particular night. The figures marked with a
dagger relate to persons who, most probably, would have been in the streets had it not been for charitable
effort. The 220 men coming within this category on the night of the 9th February, 1912, included
44 men at Work in the King's Tents belonging to the Church Army; 76 men and 58 men in two shelters
used in conjunction with the Tents; and 42 men who were sitting up in the Salvation Army Shelter in
Middlesex-street, City. It will be observed that the number marked with a dagger for 1912 is very
much smaller than the numbers obtained in the years 1909, 1910 and 1911, and the decrease practically
accounts for the reduction in the total number of homeless persons. The shelter accommodating 65
women in 1911 was closed in 1912. The people found actually in the streets included 758 men, 213
women, and 12 young persons about 16 years of age or less. For comparison with the figures obtained
on previous occasions, therefore, the total number of homeless persons is 1,203. This is less by 582
than the total for 1911, and is the lowest recorded number.
As mentioned in previous reports on this subject, the figures shown in the table do not include
all persons who might be regarded as homeless. Several of the licensed common lodging houses in
the county afford free accommodation, and there are some night refuges for the destitute not licensed
by the Council. In the earlier years, in which enumeration was made, accurate figures for these institutions
were not available, and for the sake of comparison it has been again necessary to omit them.
It may be stated, however, that there were in licensed common lodging houses where no charge is made,
360 men, 41 women, and 15 children who occupied free beds, and 938 men who received a night's lodging
in return for labour. In the shelters not licensed by the Council, there were 286 men, 225 Women,
and 14 children. In addition, 166 tickets were given to persons entitling them to free beds in a common
lodging-house on the night of the census. These tickets were given chiefly by the Church Army, the
City Temple Mission, and the Willow-street Mission. The information given in this and the preceding
paragraph is summarised in Table V.
18820 M 2