Homelessness charities have warned ministers against
complacency, after the government revealed that the number of
people sleeping rough has fallen by well over half in three
The rough sleepers unit’s progress report on the
government’s strategy to reduce street sleeping estimates
there are around 700 people sleeping rough in England, compared
with 1,850 in 1998. The government’s target is to reduce the
number of rough sleepers by at least two thirds by 2002.
Homelessness charities have warned that while people are leaving
the streets, a heavy flow of new rough sleepers continues.
“Evidence suggests that the total number of people experiencing
street homelessness in a year is far greater than the numbers found
at the time of a count,” a coalition of homelessness groups,
including Shelter, Crisis and Centrepoint, said in a statement.
In the first four months of this year, Shelter helped 1,320
people in London who had experienced street homelessness.
Ceri Sheppard, acting director of the Homelessness Network, said
resources need to be in place to deal with the flow of
“This needs co-ordination of government policy particularly on
housing, drugs, crime, health, community care, prison and army
discharge policy and support for vulnerable people,” she said.