The homelessness charity Crisis said that 80% of street sleepers in England and Wales had suffered an attack or abuse in 2016 – 458 of them.
More than half said they believed the police would not help them, so they do not report the crimes.
The report exposes a “horrifying state of affairs,” says Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes.
“We knew it was dangerous on the streets already but the very scale of it is quite shocking.”
Gary, who slept rough, told Crisis he used to fear gangs in the early hours.
“Anyone sleeping in the shop door was done,” he said. “They used to brick them or worse still – a couple of lads that were sleeping on the streets with me got knifed while they were asleep.”