The number of people sleeping rough in Hackney has risen in the last year, new figures show, as the borough’s housing chief hit out at the government for failing to tackle the housing crisis.
Volunteers, councillors and Hackney mayor Philip Glanville recorded a ‘snapshot’ of rough sleepers in the borough one night in November. The ‘homeless count’ recorded 23 people sleeping on the street, compared with 18 in the previous year.
The council noted this only accounted for “people sleeping, about to bed down, or actually bedded down, in the open air”. Homeless people in shelters or hostels, as well as beggars, were not included.
Now, with the capital in the grip of bitter winter weather, government figures out this week reveal that Hackney’s numbers were part of a similar national rise in homelessness in major cities. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that on a single night in November there were 4,677 people estimated to be sleeping on the streets across England. 1,300 people were sleeping on the streets of the capital. The latest statistics on rough sleepers show the number in London has gone up for the sixth year in a row.
Hackney councillor and cabinet member for housing and finance needs, Rebecca Rennison, criticised the government for not doing enough to resolve the crisis.
“It is an outrage that in the 21st century we still have people sleeping rough on the street,” she said.
“We are determined to do all we can to end rough sleeping in Hackney, through prevention work, hostel beds, a rough sleeper pathway, as well as ‘The Greenhouse’, which offers ongoing support and advice to anyone who needs it.”
The plight of Hackney’s rough sleepers has worsened this week, with snow continuing to fall and temperatures plummeting. Hackney, Councillor Rennison said, could not deal with the problem on its own.
“This is a national problem which requires national solutions,” she added. From adequate funding for mental health, changes to welfare and action to address the housing crisis, we will continue to call on Government to use its powers to make a difference.”