Trash ideas

“Can’t you just put them in a bin?”

That’s the thrust of an idea featured in The Mirror yesterday.

They are talking about people sleeping rough. 

It’s a common thought but one that’s built on a lack of understanding.

People look around and see more and more people sleeping rough and they want something to be done.

Fair enough.

Perhaps people assume that there is a group of people who are homeless and if we could find them homes then the problem would be sorted.

That’s not true.

Every day new people sleep rough for the first time.

That’s half of the bad news.

Most people who sleep rough in London are quickly given some type of support and do not sleep rough for a second night.

That’s the good news.

Many people who are given support end up being passed from pillar to post and a significant number end up back on the street.

That’s the second half of the bad news.

Here are some numbers for London for the period between October and December 2019:

  • 1,729 slept rough for the first time
  • 1,326 of these people spent 1 night on the streets

77% of people who slept rough for the first time spent 1 night on the street.

The system is pretty bad at stopping people sleeping rough but pretty good at quickly offering them support when they do.

  • 1,655 people who were previously sleeping rough were booked into some form of accommodation. Not bins but also not homes.

The vast majority were booked into hubs, assessments centres, temporary accommodation, B&Bs etc…177 (10%) were booked into ‘long term accommodation’ (a term that includes some types of hostel).

Inevitably, after people are booked into a centre they are moved to another type of temporary accommodation. Of the 206 people who departed from temporary accommodation: 

  • 81 left because they either committed suicide, returned to streets, were taken into custody or for unknown reasons
  • 89 were transferred to another form of temporary accommodation

While the ‘bin-house’ idea might be well meant, it doesn’t address any of the most pressing problems we face. Problems like:

– Every year there are thousands of people sleeping rough for the first time

– A significant minority of these people refuse help and end up living on the street

– Most people who are helped off the streets end up in temporary accommodation

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