‘End this scandal’: Eight homeless people died in York in 2018

A person sleeping at the top of Shambles in York. Photograph: YorkMix

Eight homeless people died in York last year.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said it is a “scandal” that there is still a high level of homeless deaths in the city.

A spokesman for City of York Council confirmed that eight people classified as homeless died in the city in 2018 but that all had accommodation as part of a resettlement programme.

Ms Maskell, who raised concerns about the level of homeless deaths in York in Parliament earlier this year, said:

  • I am appalled that there remains to be a high level of deaths for people who are homeless in York.

    Each statistic is a life, a life that has been failed.

    The reasons for homelessness are complex, however cuts to vital services and not rolling out Housing First programme has resulted in increased vulnerability to residents.

    An immediate review must be undertaken and the necessary resources to services and housing made available so that an end is brought to this scandal.

Life expectancy plummets

A homeless person in a York shop doorway. Photograph: YorkMix
Tom Brittain, head of housing at the council, said the deaths are tragedies which staff work tirelessly to prevent.

He said: “We have looked hard at each death to try and understand why people have died in such circumstances and why in York.

“Behind these statistics are real people and the figures don’t tell the whole story; we know there’s still much more to do.

“We know that people’s life expectancy plummets from 83 to 47 years when they live on the streets.”

He added that the cause of death can be complicated and staff continue work to help people off the streets and into safer, more stable lives.

  • The causes of such deaths in people can be many and complicated.

    Some individuals may have been suffering life-limiting conditions or may have had issues with drugs or alcohol.

    We continue to work with our partners to help as many people as possible off the streets into safer, more stable lives.

Cllr Denise Craghill, executive member for housing, said: “Even one death is one too many, which is why we are doing everything we can to develop new ways of getting people in off the streets.”

She said the council has secured nearly £400,000 extra funding, including £253,000 for 2019/20, from the Rough Sleeping Initiative “to try to offer each individual sleeping on the streets the tailored support they need to help them into lasting accommodation”.

Fewer deaths elsewhere

Cllr Denise Craghill
Office of National Statistics figures released this week show authorities including Middlesbrough, Darlington, Cambridge and Chester all recorded fewer homeless deaths than York.

Eleven homeless people died in York in 2017, nine of whom were in accommodation, one rough sleeper and one unknown to the local authority.

Cllr Craghill added: “We have also been awarded £139,000 Rapid Rehousing funding to help people into the homes they need.

“This is done by a specialist team of workers, known as Housing Navigators, who react rapidly to any reports of people sleeping rough and provide ongoing intensive support to known rough sleepers.

“This is a welcome addition to our continuing work to prevent homelessness in the first place and to help more people out of rough sleeping.

“It reflects the team helping more people into accommodation and reducing the number of rough sleepers in the city from 29 in 2017 to nine in 2018.

“It also complements the additional resource we invested as part of the July interim budget in extending the Housing First model.

“This provides high levels of support to help people with complex needs such as substance abuse and mental ill health to live independently and to avoid the ‘revolving door’ of ending up back on the street.

“We have also provided more 24/7 supported housing which is actually what some people need. The council invested £130,000 in developing this new programme, working with health service partners.”