THERE was an average of 29 people sleeping on the city’s streets every night in 2017, when the number of rough sleepers in York reached its highest level since the 1990s, according to a council report.

But the document says since then, thanks to extra funding, the number of rough sleepers has fallen to nine people a night in 2018. The figures come from a formal count, which is undertaken on one night between October and November.

Members of the council’s health, housing and adult social care scrutiny committee asked for an update on work being done by the council to tackle homelessness in the city after The Press revealed 11 homeless people had died in 2017.

It also follows figures published by The Press today that reveal a sharp rise in the number of homeless people admitted to hospital. 

The council report says every rough sleeper is offered help to find accommodation and work is being done to help prevent people becoming homeless, but that it is a complex issue with many challenges.

Cllr Kallum Taylor said: “The report raises more questions than it answers. Of the 13 pages, 12 are spent covering the good (and hard) work we already know is being done, but just one focuses on the areas needing attention to stop homeless people from dying in York - which is what anyone wanting to tackle this problem should be drilling down on.

“It’s not enough to just know that this is complicated and cuts across different services beyond housing - most people get that - but where are they all actually, properly fitting in?”

The report says people can make £100 a day begging in the city and it can be difficult to encourage them to move on to state benefits. And it adds that some rough sleepers are “entrenched and refuse any form of help”.

Documents prepared for a council meeting on Tuesday say: “A review was undertaken of winter night emergency provisions in York across the winter periods, capacity and availability was increased in York during 2017 and this has been further increased during 2018, including increased resources of both staff and financial assistance to enable more innovative approaches and intensive support packages for people who are homeless to provide suitable accommodation.”

The report adds that there has been an increase in the use of bed and breakfasts to provide temporary accommodation. And professionals are “concerned” about the growing demand for emergency beds, supported accommodation and long term affordable housing in York.

It adds that the 11 homeless people who died in 2017 made up just 1.8 per cent of the people who used homeless accommodation in the city that year.

The report will be discussed a meeting at West Offices on Tuesday at 5.30pm.

See also: Top York chef steps in to help feed the city's homeless.