25 Feb 2016

Housing and Planning

Reaction to Government rough sleeping statistics

Nick Hooper, Service Director for Housing Solutions and Crime Reduction said: "The number of people sleeping rough in Bristol has risen over the last 12 months according to the annual figure that we returned to the Department for Communities and Local Government towards the end of 2015.

"It was estimated that 97 people were sleeping rough on the agreed night.  The council chose to undertake an estimate as it was considered that this would provide a more accurate figure than a count because of the regular intelligence gathering and relatively consistent pattern of rough sleeping. This approach was confirmed by the government’s auditors.

"The estimate figure is higher than the hotspot count which was carried out the next morning with 60 people identified. Weekly counts of rough sleepers are held across the city that cover known rough sleeping hotspot areas but are not as thorough as the full annual counts or estimates.

"Rough Sleeping has increased significantly over the last three years, and we have set up a rough sleeping task group to address the problem of street homelessness in the city.

"Before Christmas it was announced that 20 extra beds were being provided in conjunction with St Mungo’s.

"This emergency accommodation is available for people who are being assessed by the Outreach team or who are waiting for a place in a hostel or supported accommodation and offers a bed for the night while their housing plan is assessed or until a place becomes available.

"In conjunction with a faith based organisation in the city a new central 15 bed shelter opened earlier this month.

"This will provide a seven day a week service, depending on the number of volunteers available, principally for people with a local connection to Bristol who are waiting for supported accommodation through council’s Housing Support Register.

"There is also an agreement in place to use two currently empty buildings to provide up to 10 additional longer-term beds, on top of the four that have are already available. These should be online within the next two weeks.  

"Rough sleeping is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to homelessness. This is not a Bristol-specific issue, with numbers rising in cities across the country. The rate of rough sleeping per 1,000 households stands at 0.51% in Bristol, other towns and cities have a higher rate, but as long as there is one person sleeping rough in the city we must continue to do everything we can to address the problem.  

"There are complex reasons why people are sleeping rough, and we need to know the reasons behind each individual case.  We need to continue to work together with our partners to make sure that the right sort of help is available."