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 May 2019 street count

  • 48 people were rough sleeping
  • This represents a 30 percent increase from the 37 counted during the street count in March
  • We believe the main reason that explains this increase is the closure of 34 temporary winter beds at the end of March
  • Twenty seven people (56 percent) had been sleeping rough in Oxford for less than six months - an increase from the 14 people (38 percent) counted in March
  • Of these 27 people, 12 were new to rough sleeping and 10 had returned to the streets after being accommodated
  • Twenty people (42 percent) were long term rough sleepers who had been sleeping rough for more than six months, compared to the 18 people (49 percent) counted in March
  • 19 percent of rough sleepers were identified as women (nine individuals). This is the same proportion of women sleeping rough as the seven who were counted in March
  • One person (two percent) had accommodation in Oxford but chose to sleep out on the night - a significant decrease on the seven individuals (19 percent) who chose to sleep out in March even though they had accommodation available
  • The largest proportion of people sleeping rough were aged between 36-49 years old with 18 (38 percent) found in this age range - compared with 15 (41 percent) in March
  • The average age of rough sleepers during this count was 44. In March it was 46 
  • The majority of rough sleepers in Oxford are UK nationals, with 32 counted (67 percent). This is an increase from the 22 (59 percent) counted in March
  • The number of EU nationals sleeping rough decreased from six (16 percent) to five (10 percent) people
  • Five people sleeping rough (10 percent) had no recourse to public funds - a proportional decrease from March, when five individuals (16 percent) had no recourse to public funds
  • Rough sleepers averaged three separate and overlapping support needs, with mental health and physical health issues being the most common (32 and 22 individuals respectively)
  • Five people sleeping rough (10 percent) had a local connection to Oxford, compared to six (16 percent) in March 
  • As in March, four people (8 percent) had a confirmed local connection to another district in Oxfordshire
  • Local connection can take time to confirm as it is based on building trust and verifying the circumstances of someone experiencing homelessness. and the largest group of people counted was those whose local connection had not yet been confirmed, with 15 individuals (31 percent)

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.