Leeds rough sleeping stats rise for second year in a row

The number of people sleeping rough in Leeds has risen again.
The number of people sleeping rough in Leeds has risen again.

The number of people sleeping rough in Leeds increased for the second year in a row, according to new statistics.

A snapshot count on one night in November last year revealed that 28 people were on the streets in the city – compared to six found during the 2010 tally.

The Government released the figures today, with local authority contributions showing that while 13 people were found sleeping rough in Leeds in 2015, this increased to 20 in 2016 and shot up to 28 last year.

Nationally, the figures have risen for the seventh consecutive year from 1,768 in 2010 to 4,751 in 2017. However, 1,137 of those counted last year were in London.

The counts collate the number of people sleeping, about to bed down or already bedded down in the open air, as well as those in buildings or locations not designed for habitation such as stairwells. They do not include people in hostels or shelters.

Leeds City Council’s head of housing support, Rob McCartney, said that third-sector organisations often challenge official rough sleeping figures for seeming too low.

He said: “We don’t want to have that division. We want to have an agreed figure and move forward.

“It neither condemns or vindicates Leeds. It just puts it into perspective. What we are saying is that one [person sleeping rough] is too many.”

He added that at least three of those included in the count had since moved into homes.

But he said: “Ultimately, rough sleeping is the most acute form of homelessness. Where they are at the most risk of something adverse happening.”

In the latest Leeds count, 23 of those found sleeping rough were male, and five were female.

Twenty-six were UK nationals, with one non-EU national and one person of unknown nationality included.

The data does now show which areas were searched.

The city had the second highest figure in the region, with York tallying 29.

In Wakefield there were seven rough sleepers, according to the figures.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: "“Providing meaningful help to anyone who is found to be rough sleeping or homeless in Leeds remains an absolute key priority of the council.

We are continuing to work extremely hard with a range of partners to assist those who are vulnerable and in need.

“As part of our daily work, city street outreach teams such as the Leeds Street Outreach Service and organisations such as St George’s Crypt will engage with those who are rough sleeping and make offers of accommodation and help.

"Due to the many complexities involved, the on-going challenge remains regarding how we can find more ways to encourage people who are currently rough sleeping to take up these offers and support available.

“As a council and city, we are always looking at ways in which we can further improve support and access to important services to those most in need.

"This includes for example adopting in recent months a Housing First model, whereby people would move directly from the streets to their own tenancy and we would support the furnishing of the properties and provide intensive support.

"Through this initiative we have already re-housed a number of rough sleepers in the last few months.

“We would urge anyone who is concerned they may be at risk of becoming homeless or knows of someone who is rough sleeping to please contact us as soon as possible to discuss the package of support that is available.”