Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Rough sleeping fluctuating but not rising in Reading but pressure on housing up in Reading #rdg #uikhousing


We were out of time for me to read my answer to Cllr Hopper on homelessness, so I reproduce it here.  He and councillors got a written copy.  He's welcome to contact me if he has a supplementary question.

Thank you for this question on what is a growing issue both locally and nationally.

Councillor Hopper will be aware that there are different ways of looking at homelessness. 
Legally, local authorities must have regard to the statutory definition of homelessness which is those households which meet specific criteria of priority need set out in legislation, and to whom a homelessness duty is owed by the local authority.

However to the layperson homelessness often means those who are sleeping rough and so I have also provided data on rough sleepers.


Statutory Homelessness

Statutory homeless households are rarely, literally, without a roof over their heads but are more likely to be threatened with the loss of, or are unable to continue with, their current accommodation.

This administration believes that as much as possible preventing homelessness is the best possible outcome for both residents and the council, therefore the council supports residents at risk of homelessness as appropriate to as far as possible prevent this occurring

Where the Council is unable to prevent homelessness a main homelessness duty will be owed to a household where the authority is satisfied that the applicant is eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and falls within a specified priority need group. Such statutorily homeless households are referred to as "acceptances".

Where households do not need these criteria, the Council still provides advice and assistance to help them find accommodation.

The data shows an increase over the last 18 months in the numbers who are being accepted as statutorily homeless, despite the far larger numbers who are ‘prevented’ from becoming homeless.  This reflects the economic and social changes that are taking place at the moment and I am concerned that this will continue as the demand for housing in Reading continues to be affected by the government’s policies and households remain under pressure with the ongoing squeeze on incomes.
Residents considered as ‘vulnerable’ by the legislation include applicants aged 16 or 17, those who have been in care, the elderly, anyone with a physical disability, and those who have fled their home because of violence or threat of violence.
The numbers who a homelessness duty was accepted to who had this classification is relatively low, the table below show adults and 16/17 year olds separately as you asked specifically about vulnerable adults.  You also asked about those who had been in care.  There were none in the last 3 years.


Rough Sleepers

Rough Sleepers may or may not fall within the statutory homeless definition. The Government defines Rough Sleepers as follows for the purposes of rough sleeping counts and estimates:
People sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments). People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or "bashes").

As Rough Sleepers often have particular needs the Council commission St Mungo’s to provide an expert outreach service specifically for these clients. St Mungo’s work with them to try and encourage them into services through the homeless pathways approach, which provides accommodation and other support as needed. Headcounts are carried out weekly by the team and this is the best measure we have of who is sleeping rough in Reading.  You will see this figure fluctuates but so far it appears that there is no particular upward trend despite this occurring elsewhere in the country.

We can be proud of the approach taken in Reading which treats rough sleepers decently: working with St Mungos and other charities, including Launchpad, one of last year’s Mayoral Charities, the council has been able over the last year to increase and improve support to rough sleepers and former rough sleepers including extra beds in our pathways provision, at a time where elsewhere hostels are closing.  With the clocks going back and nights getting colder I urge residents and councillors who have concerns about someone they think is sleeping rough to get in touch on 0118 958 5002 or  streetconcern@mungos.org

DATA
 No of households accepted as eligible, unintentionally homeless and in priority need
Q2 2009/10
13
Q3 2009/10
23
Q4 2009/10
5
Q1 2010/11
3
Q2 2010/11
11
Q3 2010/11
11
Q4 2010/11
14
Q1 2011/12
7
Q2 2011/12
23
Q3 2011/12
27
Q4 2011/12
28
Q1 2012/13
27

Vulnerable Adults

Priority need vulnerable single people (a subset of the data above)


Vulnerable adults
4. Applicant aged 16 or 17 years old
Q2 2009/10
3
4
Q3 2009/10
6
14
Q4 2009/10
1
3
Q1 2010/11
0
0
Q2 2010/11
4
1
Q3 2010/11
4
1
Q4 2010/11
4
0
Q1 2011/12
2
0
Q2 2011/12
2
0
Q3 2011/12
5
0
Q4 2011/12
3
0
Q1 2012/13
3
0


ROUGH SLEEPING

Those sleeping rough on average over the last 3 years

Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Jan
Feb
Mar
2009/10






10
11
9
7
7
8
2010/11
8
4
4
10
6
8
3
2
0
3
3
2
2011/12
5
4
8
1
10
5
3
13
3
3
1
8
2012/13
4
6
5
5
4
13