Why did 11 homeless people die in York? Investigation underway

A report has been commissioned into the reasons behind the deaths of 11 homeless people in York in 2017.

City of York Council sought to clarify figures they provided to the York Press which stated that five homeless people died on the street – saying four of them had been offered temporary accommodation. The other six individuals died in hostels.

But Labour councillor Kallum Taylor, speaking at a meeting of the health, housing and adult social care committee, warned against “performing mental acrobatics” over the classification of ‘homeless’. He said:

  • I think we need to be very careful that we’re not over-rationalising or trying to perform mental acrobatics to separate the causes of death from the fact that these people were homeless.

    Just because it didn’t happen on the street, in the cold, for all 11 of those people does not mean that the situation they were in is not relevant.

    My gut feeling is it shouldn’t have taken myself or anyone else to raise this.

Not that simple

Cllr Paul Doughty, chair of the council’s health, housing and adult social care policy and scrutiny committee, said he has asked for a detailed report to be prepared for a meeting next month.

He said:

  • We really do need to fully understand the reasons behind the reports. It’s not a simple as perhaps some of the headline indications might have appeared.

    The report that there were eleven deaths in 2017 could lead some to think that means 11 deaths on the street and actually that wasn’t the case, it was one person who died on the street.

    I know that’s one person too many, but others were in supported accommodation.

Local authorities are not actually required to keep statistics, he said, but York council has done so since 2014, “and in that period 29 people who were classed as homeless have died.

“But it was made clear that 27 of those were in supported accommodation or housing.

“There are a lot of complex reasons behind this. Some of the deaths may have been related to alcoholism or drug overdose.”

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