No home for Britain’s poorest

For a visitor to the U.K., men and women sleeping rough on the streets, both in city centres and in suburban areas, have sadly become an all-too-familiar sight, but figures have shown that the situation has been getting consistently worse. Government figures published earlier this year revealed that the number of people sleeping rough had increased steeply for the seventh year in a row. Over 4,700 people were sleeping on the streets in the U.K. in 2017, a 15% rise from the year before. While London has the largest number of those sleeping rough, it was in northwest England where the numbers soared. Charities have warned that the figures are likely to be far higher, raising questions about the government’s ambitions to halve rough-sleeping by 2022 and to eradicate it in nine years. Some trials have been taking place in recent years using strategies tested in other European countries. For example, Finland, where rough-sleeping hit over 4,700 in the 1980s, has eradicated it entirely, thanks to a “Housing First” scheme. However, in the U.K., it remains firmly in the pilot stage.

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