The amount of rough sleepers in the Black Country has fallen in the last year, however charities warn that the figure is just the tip of the iceberg.


Across the Black Country , 49 people were found to be sleeping rough in autumn 2018, which is down by 18% from 60 in 2017, which saw a record high.
 

Although the amount has decreased, it's still more than twice as many rough sleepers than in autumn 2010, where 22 were counted in the Black Country .
 

Chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, Jon Sparkes said: “It’s a damning reflection of our society that night after night, so many people are forced to sleep rough on our streets, especially when we know that with the right commitment, rough sleeping could be ended for good.


Rough sleepers have set up a village of tents just off Stafford Road in Wolverhampton.
 

“Living on the streets is one of the most dangerous experiences anyone could face.
 

“Not only will rough sleepers experience extreme isolation and often severe weather conditions, but we know they have a high risk of dying young and our own research shows they are 17 times more likely to experience abuse than the general public.
 

“No one should have to live like this.”
 

The drop in rough sleeping seen in the Black Country reflects a national trend, which has seen the number recorded go down for the first time since 2010.
 

Across England 4,677 people were found to be sleeping rough in autumn 2018, down by less than 2% from 4,751 in 2017, which was a record
high.
 

However, that is still nearly three times as many rough sleepers as the 1,768 counted nationally in autumn 2010, and the second-highest
figure on record.
 

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The combination of spiralling rents, a faulty benefits system and lack of social housing
means the number of people forced to sleep rough has risen dramatically since 2010.
 

“Anyone who is forced to sleep in shop doorways or on the night bus is the end result of a broken housing system.
 

“And this figure is just the tip of the iceberg: there are many more people living precariously in emergency and temporary accommodation
with their families.
 

“While the government has embarked on some welcome initiatives on rough sleeping, you can’t solve homelessness without homes.
 

“These figures demonstrate the need for major investment in new social homes and we are calling for the government to build three million
over the next twenty years.”

 


Of the 4,677 rough sleepers counted across the country in autumn 2018, 642 (14%) of rough sleepers were women and 296 (6%) of rough sleepers were under 25 years of age.

There were 1,048 rough sleepers (22%) who were EU nationals from outside the UK - up from 760 in 2017 - and 153 (3%) of rough sleepers
were from outside the EU.
 

The numbers, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government 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.
 

Their latest report reveals that 3,289 people rough slept across London alone from October to December 2018 - a 25% increase on the
2,630 people sleeping rough from the same period last year.
 

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 DCLG 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.
 

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 DCLG 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.


Keep up-to-date with all things Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell and Wolverhampton on our  Black Country Live Facebook page  - where you'll get the latest news, travel, weather and events in your area.