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HARP Responds to Rough Sleeper Snapshot

As the number of people sleeping rough in the town in 2021 is largely unchanged compared to 2020, we have expressed our cautious optimism.

However, with the cost of living crisis intensifying, and the effects of Government initiatives to limit the pandemic’s impact on homelessness ending, we feel that homelessness cases are beginning to rise and could be set to increase further.

The National Rough Sleeping Snapshot is a Government initiative to count or estimate the number of people sleeping rough in each Local Authority in England on a single night in autumn.

In 2021, there were 10 people counted in Southend-on-Sea on the chosen night in November, which is marginally up from the eight people counted in 2020.

Thanks to effective partnership working in the town, all 10 were offered support and accommodation to begin the journey away from the streets.

Longer-term, rough sleeping is significantly down on the record 72 people estimated to be sleeping rough in autumn 2017.

We believe that its strategy to increase the number of rooms it is able to provide to people affected by homelessness is amongst the key reasons for the significant improvement in rough sleeping figures in recent years.

Currently, we can house 235 people on any given night, and this is set to increase to 297 by the end of December when we open our new Bluebird development in the town.

In 2020, the Government’s Everyone In campaign was in full force, with a huge national effort to get people into temporary accommodation to shelter them from the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, there was a Government-mandated ban on evictions which ended in May 2021.

HARP supports on average, around 1,000 local people each year who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and believe that the lifting of these initiatives could lead to a sharp rise in the numbers of local people dragged into the housing crisis.

Jackie Bliss, Chief Executive of HARP, said: “Whilst it is reassuring that rough sleeping has not increased significantly in the town and that we are thankfully not close to returning to the record highs of 2017, 10 people sleeping rough in Southend-on-Sea is still 10 too many.

As Government measures such as the Everyone In campaign and the eviction ban has now ended, along with the acute cost of the living crisis affecting us all, we do expect to see more people pushed towards homelessness as the year develops.

We will continue to do all we can to provide new and innovative housing for local people affected by homelessness, to meet the needs of local homeless people and the vulnerably housed, to do all we can to ensure no one has to resort to rough sleeping in our town.”


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