High-risk homeless clients turned away from services

Funding cuts are causing more and more homelessness projects to turn away the highest risk clients, research finds today.

Funding cuts are causing many more homelessness projects to turn away the highest risk clients, research finds today.

Fifty-eight per cent of projects had their funding reduced in the past year, despite a 23% rise in rough sleeping between autumn 2010 and 2011, found Homeless Link’s annual SNAP survey of services.

The survey of 1,567 projects  found this had led to reductions in available beds and staff, which in turn has caused more projects to refuse to help to high-risk clients or those whose needs are considered too high or too low.

In 2010, just 5% of projects turned clients away if they were deemed to pose a risk to staff but in 2011 the percentage had risen to 47%.

Alice Evans, head of policy at Homeless Link, said that funding cuts were reducing staffing levels and this was making it harder for projects to handle more difficult clients.

“Projects are staying open by cutting salaries and staffing rather than beds but this is changing drastically what support is offered,” she said. “There is an increased use of volunteers and while volunteers are excellent they are no substitute for paid staff. The turnover is higher and they are not always trained to the same level.”

Services are also offering fewer targeted services to people from ethnic minorities and those aged over 50, as well as reporting that they are getting fewer clients into work (44% of projects) or housing (38% of projects).

Projects also told Homeless Link that the reductions in services were causing more rough sleeping, more crime and street drinking.

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