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People who are homeless

Statutory homeless households

Homeless households refers to households that were assessed as owed a homelessness duty, due to being threatened with homelessness or already being homeless.

In Herefordshire between 2021-22 and 2022-23 the number of households that were either homeless (with a relief duty owed) or threatened with homeless (preventing duty owed) increased from 1,158 to 1,328. This equates to a rate of 16 per thousand households, higher than the rate for England of 12 per thousand.

Significant rent and mortgage increases have driven up costs for many tenants and home-owners across the country and changes in legislation, that have placed an increased regulatory burden on landlords, have made the rental sector less attractive especially to smaller landlords.  These developments are aggravating the long-standing national issue of undersupply of social and affordable housing and coupled with other cost-of-living pressures are likely to result in increased incidence of homelessness

Rough sleepers

Although numbers are difficult to establish with certainty, the average number of rough sleepers on a single night in Herefordshire was estimated at 19 for the year ending 2023, more than two and a half times the average number for the YE 2020 of 7.

The Herefordshire Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2020-2025 sets out a series of actions aimed at reducing homelessness and rough sleeping in the county.

Homeless Link’s Homeless Health Needs Audit

The Homeless Health Needs Audit is a tool developed nationally that aims to i) increase the evidence available about the health needs of people who are homeless and the wider determinants of their health, ii) bring statutory and voluntary services together to develop responses to local priorities and address gaps in services, iii) give people experiencing homelessness a stronger voice in local commissioning processes, and iv) help commissioners understand the effectiveness of their services.

In Herefordshire, between December 2016 and February 2018, the health needs of people who were/are sleeping rough, sofa surfing, otherwise chaotically housed or living in specialist supported accommodation were found to be -

Health needs:

  • Physical health: The most common physical health problems identified were joint/bone/muscle problems (26%), dental problems (19%), eyesight/eye problems (16%) and asthma (16%).
  • Mental health: Participants experience high levels of stress, anxiety and other signs of poor mental health. Overall 76% of respondents reported a mental health problem/behaviour condition.  Dual diagnosis (severe mental health issue and substance misuse) was reported by 18% (18 people, 78% of whom were told in the last 12 months); 14% reported psychosis (of whom 71% were told in the last 12 months). Just under half of those with a mental health problem felt that they were not receiving treatment that they would benefit from, this included respondents with severe mental health conditions and common mental health conditions.
  • Drugs and alcohol: 43% of respondents did not use drugs, 15% used cannabis only and 42% used Class A, prescription or other non-cannabis drugs. 25 people identified themselves as having a drug problem or being in recovery, of which 32% felt they would benefit from more treatment. Approximately half of respondents drank frequently (from almost every day to once or twice a week). Those that drank, drank on average 10.7 units on a typical day.
  • Access to services: 78% of respondents were registered with a GP and 29% with a dentist. Use of acute care services was common, and frequent. Mental health problems and self-harm/attempted suicide contributed to approximately 40% of A&E, ambulance and hospital admissions. Violence and accidents were the main reasons for approximately 30% of use of these acute services.
  • Staying healthy: Basic nutrition in this population was identified as a problem with only 19% of respondents reporting an average of 3+ meals per day. Uptake of preventative health interventions was low in this population, for example <10% of respondents had the flu vaccine last year.