Rough sleeper Tasha, who was also known by some on the streets as Sasha, was found dead sometime after 6am this morning.
Scott Hastings, who has been on the streets for two months, said: “She was a kind, big-hearted woman.
“She was a bit upset last night - she’s been bullied and taken advantage of on the streets. I was sat with her till the early hours of the morning giving her some courage.
“This morning we walked over and saw Scouse (a rough sleeper) freaking out in the corner. He said ‘she’s dead’. Someone else went over to feel her pulse and said she had died.” It’s so terrible.”
Another woman, who was in tears, said: “I loved her to bits.”
West Yorkshire Police were called at 7.42am by the ambulance service. Forensics officers are currently on the scene investigating.
The front entrance of House of Fraser has been cordoned off. There are signs in the window asking people to use the back entrance.
Several people said Tasha, who is believed to have a daughter, had a house in Bradford.
One man, a well known 38-year-old man in the rough sleeping community, said: “She had a house there but she felt isolated. She should have had a house in Leeds.
“I last saw her at about 4am when I got a cig off her. We were sleeping out without tents last night - it was not that cold.
“She was very well known. Everybody loved her.
“People did take advantage of her. She got bullied.
“It’s just so cold and horrible out here.”
West Yorkshire Police said in a statement: "At 7.42am today, police were contacted by the ambulance service who were attending an incident in Briggate, Leeds city centre, where a woman had been found unconscious and unresponsive.
"The woman, who is believed to have been sleeping rough, was pronounced dead at the scene.
"There are no suspicious circumstances and the Coroner’s Office has been informed."