Home Breaking News How many people were sleeping rough in Hertfordshire last autumn?

How many people were sleeping rough in Hertfordshire last autumn?

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The number of rough sleepers in Herts stayed at similar levels last year, despite a fall across England as a whole.

There were at least 38 people estimated to be sleeping rough across Herts on the night of the count in autumn 2021. That was around the same number as in 2020.

The numbers include five in Dacorum, down from seven in 2020, six in Watford, down from eight, and 14 in Stevenage, up from six.

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The number has increased in St Albans, too – from only an estimate of 1-4 in the autumn of 2020 to 8 in the autumn of 2021.

Some numbers under five have been suppressed and national and regional totals rounded to prevent disclosure of sensitive information.

BELOW: A table of figures showing the number of rough sleepers in Herts.

Table Key: Local Authority/Autumn 2020/Autumn 2021

Note: Where table says ‘—‘ the number is thought to be between 1 and 4.

  • Broxbourne /— / —
  • Dacorum / 7 / 5
  • Hertsmere / 11 / —
  • North Hertfordshire / — / —
  • Three Rivers / — / —
  • Watford / 8 / 6
  • St Albans / — / 8
  • Welwyn Hatfield / — / —
  • East Hertfordshire / 6 / 5
  • Stevenage / 6 / 14

‘Everyone deserves a safe place to live’

Across England, 2,440 people were estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night in autumn 2021.

That was down by 9% from 2,690 in 2020, and down from the peak of 4,750 in 2017.

However, that is still 38% higher than the 1,770 counted nationally in autumn 2010.

Rick Henderson, CEO at Homeless Link – the national membership charity for frontline homelessness organisations in England, which independently verifies the figures – said: “Everyone deserves a safe place to live and the support they need to maintain it.

“So, after nearly a decade of continual rises, a fourth year on year decrease in the number of people sleeping rough on any given night is something to celebrate.

“The hard work of homeless services on the front-line, in partnership with government and local authorities, has shown us that rough sleeping is not inevitable, that we can dream of one day living in a society where it has all but been eradicated.

“But 2,400 people are still sleeping rough on any given night, with this figure 38% higher than the total in 2010.

“These are real lives, stories of people let down by a system that should protect them. It could be someone who lost their job during the pandemic or a young person who’s recently left the care system, terrified and alone. It could be a woman fleeing an abusive partner or someone evicted from a private tenancy through no fault of their own.”

He added, with the Government’s target of ending rough sleeping by 2024 fast approaching, it was critical to redouble efforts.

Addressing the root causes of homelessness will be key to prevent economic pressures pushing many more people into it – with the cost of living crisis and rising private sector evictions – as well as learning from schemes such as ‘Everyone In’ and Housing First, Homeless Link stressed.

Why homelessness numbers likely to be higher in reality

The numbers, published by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DLUHC) are likely to be an underestimate of the true scale of rough sleeping, as it is difficult to account for everyone who is sleeping rough based on a single night’s count or an estimate of those known to local services.

The Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) is a multi-agency database recording information about people seen rough sleeping by outreach teams in London.

Its latest report reveals 2,949 people sleeping rough across London alone from October to December 2018 – an 11% increase on the same period in 2020.

The DLUHC figures say the number of rough sleepers in London fell from 710 in autumn 2020 to 640 in autumn 2021.

The CHAIN data is not comparable to the single night snapshot counts and estimates presented by this release, however, as the figures are recorded differently and represent different time periods.

The DLUHC rough sleeping counts and estimates are single night snapshots of the number of people sleeping rough in local authority areas. Local authorities decide whether to carry out a count or an estimate.

Councils are encouraged to gain intelligence for street counts and estimates from local agencies such as outreach workers, the police, the voluntary sector and members of the public who have contact with rough sleepers on the street.

But there are many practical difficulties in counting the number of rough sleepers within the area of a local authority.

It is not possible to cover the entire area of a local authority in a single evening, so counts will be targeted to areas according to local intelligence.

As well as this, rough sleepers may bed down at different times meaning that some may be missed. Some places of rough sleeping may be difficult or unsafe for those conducting the count to access.

For these reasons, the DLUHC says the figures are subject to some uncertainty.

In addition to the difficulties in capturing an accurate number, various factors can affect the numbers of rough sleepers on any given night, such as the availability of alternatives such as night shelters, and the weather.

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https://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/news/hertfordshire-news/how-many-people-were-sleeping-6717581