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Rough sleeping locally sees downward trend.

[26 January 2017]
National statistics released this week, following the annual count last November, reveal a 16% increase in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of England during the last 12 months. This is the 6th consecutive year that the national count has risen, and these data remain a deep concern for those providing support in the homelessness sector.

Locally, however, both Hull City Council and the East Riding of Yorkshire Council report decreases in the numbers of rough sleepers counted in the annual survey.

Kingston upon Hull

Actual count:
2015: 23
2016: 15

Actual count:
2010: 7

A spokesperson for Hull City Council's Housing Strategy department responds:

"Whilst the number of people sleeping rough has decreased, and partners are supporting more people than ever to avoid homelessness before it becomes a reality for them, all of us who are involved in any part of this reported trend will continue to work hard to further reduce the number of people faced with homelessness.

Organisations which provide support to those who are homeless are always looking to innovate – new and improved ways of working are being developed all of the time. And through the Preventing Homelessness Strategy, to be developed and launched soon, we will set out what our collective aspirations are and challenge ourselves to do even better."

East Riding of Yorkshire

Actual count:
2015: 16
2016: 13

Actual count:
2010: 11

A spokesperson for East Riding of Yorkshire Council's Housing Strategy and Development department responds:

"One person sleeping rough is one too many and East Riding of Yorkshire Council is working hard with a number of partners to tackle the issue. Urgent action is taken by an outreach service shared by East Riding and Hull City Councils whose service provider, EMMAUS, provides a rapid response service to reports of rough sleepers between 6am and 10pm, seven-days-a-week.

In recognition that rough sleeping affects Bridlington more than other areas of the authority, a housing scheme for single homeless people has been doing excellent work in the town since it opened in October 2013."
Broadly, we should be pleased to see that local data for rough sleepers bucks the national trend, but there are a number of caveats.

Firstly, these figures are in no way to be regarded as a definitive count of how many people are sleeping rough in our region. The actual number of rough sleepers varies nightly and seasonally, and may even be considerably higher. These data should only be seen as a snapshot and, seen over a number of years, they merely offer a guide to trends.

Secondly, even one person sleeping rough is one person too many.

Locally, in addition to the wide ranging services provided by both council authorities, we have a vibrant and active voluntary sector. There are local projects tackling poverty and debt, helping recovery from addiction, providing skills training and entry into employment, and numerous projects providing immediate accommodation and various transitional housing options. Increasingly these projects work closer and closer together, and in partnership with our councils too. It is this work that has helped to reduce rough sleeping locally in the last 12 months.

Of course, there is so much more to achieve together.

Housing is expensive, to buy or to rent, and becoming unaffordable to increasing numbers - especially the young. The Private Rental Sector is expensive and fragile, with termination of short-term tenancies being the largest single factor causing homelessness. Employment, even with great investment locally, is often unstable, with low wages and underemployment for many.

Let's hope that by developing our work together, sharing resources and passion, we can continue to report downward trends in rough sleeping next year and beyond.

Jerome Whittingham