London’s rising homelessness problem is most visible on Tottenham Court Road, where a tent village springs up each night in front of contemporary furniture and lighting stores Habitat and Heal’s. Dezeen spoke to two of the rough sleepers.
The first, Declan Warren, is a builder and recovering drug addict. He lost his housing association flat a year ago. He recently had his false teeth stolen so has to eat through a straw, while one of his fingers was broken when a drunken youth stamped on his hand late one night.
“They came and stood on my hand and urinated on me,” he said. “They ran off. They thought that was very funny.”
“Most people are one pay cheque away from where I am,” he added. “We’re not all bad people. Just say hello. It’s being recognised for the human beings we are. Because you walk by us and dismiss us.”
The second, Luke, is a former soldier who served in Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq but lost his home when his wife died of a brain haemorrhage. He has been homeless for 11 years. Last week he buried his companion, who died of hypothermia on Regent Street.
“I thought it would be better than this,” said Luke.
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