Shocking figures reveal an almost 600 per cent rise in homelessness in Sheffield

The number of homeless people and rough sleepers have risen by 575 per cent  since the start of Covid-19,  a new report has revealed.

While 29 individuals required emergency temporary accommodation at the start of 2020, Sheffield City Council reveals that those number have since risen to 196 individuals, an increase of more than 150.

This increase in rough sleeping and homelessness has lead to 105 more households requiring temporary accommodation than at the end of 2019, resulting in hotels and B&B’s being utilised as temporary accommodation, according to Sheffield City Council’s Homelessness and Response to Covid-19 and Rough Sleeping updated report.

Speaking in the Safer and Stronger Communities Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee meeting on February 25th, Zoe Young, Housing Options and Advice Service Manager, said: “Very quickly we had to find somewhere to place the increasing number of people that came to us at risk of rough sleeping.

“We needed to make sure that people didn’t have to use the streets and do anything that put the health of people in hotels or those working with them at risk. While people have been in hotels we’ve managed to do wrap-around services that are going into the hotels.

“It’s been really inspiring, the amount of work that’s happened through charities and the council since Covid-19.”

Throughout the pandemic, Sheffield-based charities Cathedral Archer Project and Ben’s Centre have partnered  with various organisations and soup kitchens in the city to run ‘meals-on-wheels’, as well as providing clothing, toiletries, items of enrichment, as well as a point of contact for those struggling.

Tim Renshaw BEM, Chief Executive at Cathedral Archer Project said: “The problems that we faced this time last year and the innovations that have been put into place that year should be applauded.

“There were people going into hotels, some people were leaving hotels very quickly, some people felt bullied out of those hotels by other people using them and some people were just not used to that sort of environment.

“That essential contact service still needed to be maintained and it was.”

The council works with those facing homelessness 56 days before and after loss of housing, with the main cause of homelessness remaining an individual asked to leave by family and friends. The rate of homelessness due to domestic abuse has also risen since the start of the pandemic.

The council now faces the challenge of locating appropriate temporary and long-term housing solutions as the hospitality industry prepares itself to re-open later this year.

Written by Abbie Howell

First year Journalist at the University of Sheffield! Words in Liberty Belle, Forge Press and the Hysteria Collective

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