Street counts - how many people are sleeping rough?

How many people are sleeping rough in Oxford?

Street counts

We can provide snapshot figures for rough sleepers and see longer term trends by conducting regular street counts.

These regular counts take place at night and we co-ordinate them with the help of organisations who work with people sleeping rough.

What is a street count?

Homeless Link defines a street count as “a snapshot of the number of people seen sleeping rough in a local authority area on a particular night.” 

This snapshot figure allows for long term comparisons of the growth or decline in the number of rough sleepers.

It is not intended to be a complete picture of current rough sleepers in Oxford.

A street count will not record everyone in the area with a history of rough sleeping, but it is effective in:

  • gauging the scale of the rough sleeping problem in Oxford
  • monitoring progress over time

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government funds Homeless Link, which supports councils in England to undertake either a count or an intelligence-led estimate of the number of people sleeping rough.

Main points from November 2019 street count

  • 43 people were rough sleeping
  • This represents a 16% percent decrease from the 51 counted during the street count in September and a 4% decrease from the 45 people counted in November 2018
  • Nine people (21%) were women, compared to the six women (12%) counted in September
  • Two people (5%) had accommodation in Oxford but chose to sleep out on the night, when in September one person (2%) did so
  •  Fourteen people (33%) had returned to the streets after being accommodated, the same proportion as the 17 people counted in September
  • Nine of the people counted (21%) had been sleeping rough for less than six months and one person (2%) was newly verified by the outreach team (OxSPOT) on the night. In September, 13 people (25%) had been sleeping rough for less than six months with another eight people (16%) newly verified during the count
  • Twenty seven people (61%) had been sleeping rough for more than six months, an increase from 26 people (51%) in September
  • Between the September and November counts the number of people sleeping rough for over a year increased from 21 (44%) to 26 (60%) individuals
  • Services can find it hard to engage with long term rough sleepers and those who return to the streets repeatedly, as many of them have more than one unmet support need. The two most common support needs in November were alcohol issues and mental health needs, with 18 people (42%) identified with each of these
  • People experiencing rough sleeping frequently have overlapping support needs and 20 people (47%) counted in November had four overlapping needs
  • Thirteen people sleeping rough (30%) had a local connection to Oxford, a bigger proportion than the 13 (25%) also counted in September
  • The number of people with a known local connection elsewhere in Oxfordshire doubled from three (six percent) to six people (14%)
  • The number of homeless UK nationals experiencing homelessness fell from 24 (47%) in September to 21 (49%) in November
  • The number of EU nationals sleeping rough fell from 12 (24%) to 10 (23%) people
  • The largest proportion of people sleeping rough were aged between 36-49 years old

You can get more detailed reports of bi-monthly street counts by emailing the Rough Sleeping and Single Homelessness team at [email protected]

Street counts or estimates follow a methodology developed by Homeless Link.