The Welsh Government has released its annual rough sleeping figures for 2018 following a one-night snapshot in November and a two-week count in October submitted by Welsh local authorities.
Here’s our response to the Welsh Government findings of a 1% increase in rough sleeping, according to the one-night count, and a 16% decrease in rough sleeping, according to the two-week count.
“Collecting accurate data on the numbers of people experiencing homelessness is difficult; people often move around a lot and there’s hidden homelessness even amongst those who have to bed down on our streets. However, we don’t feel that the results of the Welsh Government figures on rough sleeping are representative of the situation in Wales.
The disparity between the one-night count and the two-week count is too big to draw solid conclusions. The county of Gwynedd, for example, reported just three people rough sleeping on the one-night count, but this jumps up to 30 individuals during the two-week count. We would urge the Welsh Government to review how this data is collected.
The stats also don’t provide any insight into the people behind the numbers; why have they found themselves homeless and why do some stay homeless? We recently released our South Wales Street Based Lifestyle Monitor which highlighted how many people, across a 12 month period, engage with us on the streets and how often.
We found a 9% increase in the number of people we worked with in 2018 but, more significantly, we found a 62% increase in the amount of contacts we make; i.e. we’re seeing the same people, more often. We made contact with almost 3,000 people last year, but we made contact with them over 30,000 times.
Entrenched rough sleeping shows a failing of the system and the sector to construct the pathways that people need to move away from homelessness and move on with their lives.
We must also acknowledge a ‘less than 1% increase’ in the context of almost 10 years of continuous increase. We should not celebrate, or rest, when estimates show 165% more people sleeping rough since 2010.
Our seven policy recommendations to reduce systemic homelessness are radical but necessary. They include abolishing the failing ‘priority need’ system, approving Enhanced Harm-Reduction Centres, adopting more Housing First projects and combining housing, health and criminal justice policies which prioritises trauma-informed support.”