Oxford City Council has released its latest rough sleeper street count for the month of November 2019.
The council counted 43 people sleeping rough on the streets of Oxford on one night in the month, representing a 16% decrease from September and a 4% decrease from the 45 people counted in November 2018.
Although street counts cannot give a complete picture of homelessness in Oxford, the Council uses the measurement to guide its trends of the number of rough sleepers over time.
Breaking down the numbers, the Council said that 9 of the sleepers were female, whilst 37 (79%) were male.
Meanwhile, 14 people sleeping on the streets had returned to them after being previously accommodated, the same proportion as those in September, whereas two rough sleepers who had accommodation in Oxford chose to sleep out on the night.
There was one person who was newly verified by the outreach team (OxSPOT) as sleeping rough for less than six months, yet 9 al- together were counted as having been on the streets for less than half a year.
Furthermore, 27 people (61%) had been sleeping rough for more than six months, whilst the number of those homeless in Oxford for over a year has increased from 21 in September to 26 in Novem- ber.
Whilst the number of those people sleeping rough who had local connections with the city and the Oxfordshire area increased between the two months, the number of those from elsewhere in the UK and from the EU had fallen.
The street count found that the two most common support needs for those sleeping rough were alcohol issues and mental health needs, with 18 people identifying with each of these.
The count found that nearly half of those sleeping rough had four overlapping and complex needs.
Caution should be taken with the numbers released, as the Council warned, noting that street counts cannot capture common scenarios of rough sleeping such as people sleeping in stairwells and sites not visited or accessible to street counters.
A county-wide estimate of rough sleeper numbers has been compiled by Oxford City Council and other district councils.
This will be released on 28th February to coincide with England-wide statistics collected by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Commenting on the November street count results, Councillor Linda Smith said: “the key to helping people off the streets is effective engagement and this begins with the first conversation with someone experiencing rough sleeping.”
Smith, who is an Oxford City Council cabinet member for leisure and housing, added that “We anticipate that the opening of Floyds Row in January will help us to sustain this reduction in the number of people experiencing rough sleeping in Oxford.”
According to the homelessness and housing charity Shelter, an estimated 280,000 people were sleeping rough or living in temporary housing in England at the end of 2019.
This represents an increase of 3,600 on 2018 and 23,000 since 2017.