The housing crisis in Bristol

Since 2010 the people seen sleeping rough on streets has increased ten-fold. Rough sleeping is the tip of the iceberg in terms of homelessness, and it's impossible to know how many people are staying on friends sofas or in other unstable housing situations. Many people who are sitting in groups on the street or in a park, or might be begging, are not necessarily sleeping rough.

The response of Bristol City Council and local charities has been to respond quickly to the increased need and open more emergency night shelter beds. In January 2016, we were able to open two new night shelters, providing 40 extra shelter beds, bringing the total across our four night shelters to 70.

All shelter beds in the city are free to people that use them. Many people still believe that it costs anything between £15 to £18 a night to stay in a shelter. This has never been true in Bristol.

We know that night shelters aren't the only solution to this crisis, and we are working together to provide further emergency as well as longer term responses to tackle the rise in rough sleeping in the city.

Bristol City Council currently funds around 1,100 beds in hostels and supported accommodation which helps people when they have moved away from the streets. Hostels and supported housing are full, and is much harder for people to find accommodation of their own to move into. This means that sadly nearly 200 people will sleep rough in any given week, and around 100 people on any given night.

Why are people sleeping rough?

The top three reasons for someone starting to sleep rough in 2017 were:

  1. Eviction from accommodation
  2. Relationship breakdown
  3. Leaving prison without accommodation

Bristol City Council has legal duties to accommodate some people who become homeless but not all, and has major budget pressures around housing and social care provision.

Someone might continue to be sleeping rough for the following reasons:

  1. Waiting for an accommodation option because the shelters might be full
  2. Their situation maybe complex and they need the help of an experienced outreach worker to leave the streets.
  3. They might be new to the streets and yet to access help (streetlink).

Where can I find out more?

A good starting point for reading more are reports compiled by Crisis and Shelter.

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