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 March 2019 street count

  • There was no street count in January. Snow and freezing weather meant we had activated our severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) on both the scheduled and reserve dates for the count. As emergency beds were available for all rough sleepers, the street count team carried out a welfare check and offered SWEP spaces to everyone they found instead
  • 37 people were rough sleeping
  • This represents a 18 percent decrease from the 45 counted during the annual street count in November 2018
  • Fourteen people (38 percent) had been sleeping rough in Oxford for less than six months - a decrease from the 20 people (44 percent) counted in November
  • Of these 14 people, 12 were new to rough sleeping and two had returned to the streets after being accommodated
  • Eighteen people (49 percent) were long term rough sleepers who had been sleeping rough for more than six months, compared to the 15 people (33 percent) counted in November
  • 19 percent of rough sleepers were identified as women (seven individuals). This is a slight decrease on the number and proportion of women sleeping rough, which stood at 24 percent (11 individuals) in November 2018
  • Another 19 percent of people (seven individuals) had accommodation in Oxford but chose to sleep out on the night - a significant increase on the two individuals (4 percent) who chose to sleep out in November even though they had accommodation available
  • The largest proportion of people sleeping rough were aged between 36-49 years old with 15 (41 percent) found in this age range - the same proportion as in November
  • The average age of rough sleepers during this count was 46 
  • The majority of rough sleepers in Oxford are UK nationals, with 22 counted (59 percent). This is a decrease from the 29 (64 percent) counted in November
  • The same proportion (16 percent) of rough sleepers were EU nationals in November and March, with seven and six people respectively
  • Five people sleeping rough (14 percent) had no recourse to public funds - a decrease from November, when 11 individuals (24 percent) had no recourse to public funds
  • The majority of people sleeping rough in Oxford are in the city centre with 27 people counted (73 percent). In November, 32 people (71 percent) were sleeping in the city centre
  • Rough sleepers averaged four separate and overlapping support needs, with mental health issues and difficulty sustaining accommodation being the most common (11 and 12 individuals respectively)
  • Six people (16 percent) had a confirmed local connection to Oxford, the same number as November (proportionally, 13 percent) 
  • Four people (11 percent) had a confirmed local connection to another district in Oxfordshire, compared to seven people (16 percent) in November
  • 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 14 individuals (38 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.