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Street survey report reveals shocking homelessness statistics

More than half of the homeless in Leicester have been without a home for more than a year, a new survey by De Montfort University (DMU) has revealed.

A team of volunteers from DMU went into the streets one night last week to find out just how serious the homelessness problem in Leicester is.

Out of the 93 people surveyed during last Tuesday night’s survey, 55 per cent had been without a home for more than one year and two per cent for more than ten years.

The number of homeless people surveyed by the DMU study was close to the estimated total recorded in last year’s City Council Report.

“The aim is to get to know every street homeless person by name, to understand their needs and background and to build up a picture of what support they need to get off the streets,” said Mark Grant, chief executive of Action Homeless, in a report produced following last week’s study.

David Weight - Action Homeless ESH Leicester November 2017 107

The report was published this week by Jo Richardson, Professor of Housing and Director of the Centre for Comparative Housing Research at DMU.

Mr Grant continued: “The citywide survey gives us the most accurate picture of just how many people need our help and is the first full count in Leicester for 16 years.

“Anyone found during the week who wanted to come off the street was offered accommodation and support and we hope this will be the first step in achieving the target of ending rough sleeping in Leicester by 2020.”

David Weight - Action Homeless ESH Leicester November 2017 39 resized

The survey was carried out as part of a Connections Week to support the European End Street Homelessness Campaign. About 100 DMU students teamed up with Action Homeless, six other agencies, local councillors and the deputy Mayor to collect data and support rough sleepers in 18 zones of the city from November 6 to 11.

Ninety-one people were surveyed in the official street count on November 7 with two others later in the week. Ten of those who took part were women.

“The European End Street Homelessness Campaign cities use a common survey framework to allow for future comparative analysis and peer-learning from findings across cities,” said Prof Richardson.

“The Leicester approach adapted questions so that they sounded right in the context of Leicester, but stuck closely to the frame.”

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The campaign included a survey for scoring the vulnerability of the homeless in order to prioritise resources and agency responses. It revealed that 95 per cent of the homeless in Leicester had medium to high vulnerability scores.

Forty per cent of the respondents said that their homelessness had followed a traumatic episode or experience.

At least five of the individuals had physical, mental and substance issues which require a sophisticated multi-level response.

“Too often, we expect people, who have complex and challenging needs, to jump through our hoops to prove that they are ready for housing,” Mr Grant added.

“In actuality what they really need first is a roof over their heads and a place to call home.”

One solution being worked on as part of the campaign in Leicester is to pilot a ‘Housing First’ approach, which has seen success in parts of Europe and the US.

One of the partner organisations, the emh social housing group, would provide suitable accommodation to get people off the streets into permanent housing in the first instance and then with partners shape a package of personalised support based on an assessment of individual needs.

The campaign is seen as the first step of a future partnership between the charities, statutory agencies, and DMU to collect and analyse data for this project.

Posted on: Tuesday 21 November 2017

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