Hastings has more than ten times the number of people rough sleeping since records began in 2010, the latest government figures have revealed. A Rough Sleeping Snapshot released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on Tuesday 28 February shows 34 people recorded as sleeping rough, a dramatic rise from 3 in 2010.

In England, the statistics show the first increase in reported rough sleeping since 2017. The figures estimate that 3,069 people were sleeping rough on a single night in England in autumn 2022 – a 26% increase from 2021 and 74% increase from 2010, when the data collection first began.

The annual count was compiled from data obtained in autumn 2022. The figures were collected by local authorities who could either conduct a count or submit an estimate of the number of people who were sleeping rough on a single night. Therefore, the true number of people who were experiencing street homelessness is likely to be substantially higher.

According to information from Hastings & St. Leonards’ Council, 35% of households in Hastings are living in poverty. The cost of living crisis is likely to perpetuate this issue.

Graham, one of our companions, said: “The figures are alarming, and its really frustrating when you are on the streets and see lots of empty buildings that could be turned into homes for people with a bit of investment. I feel so grateful that I am not one of those statistics anymore because I have a home at Emmaus but I never stop thinking about the people that are still homeless and I know from experience how awful it is to have to survive on the streets.”

The increase in rough sleeping figures reflects the end of the Everyone In scheme, which provided support for more than 37,000 people sleeping rough during the pandemic, coupled with the end of the evictions ban which placed an estimated 400,000 households at high risk of eviction according to research commissioned by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Furthermore, the end to government support initiatives combined with soaring inflation and the ongoing cost of living crisis saw nearly one million low-income households state that they were expecting to face eviction in winter 2022 according to a survey by Crisis. The survey also found that the private rented sector is often out of reach, and long social housing waiting lists and other issues accessing homelessness support meant that many people faced a lack of options, leaving some people forced to sofa surf or sleep rough.

Sallie Quinlan, Deputy Community Manager at Emmaus Hastings & Rother, said: “The figures confirm what we already know, which is that the cost of living crisis along with the ending of the Everyone In scheme is having a big impact on people’s lives in the Hastings and Rother area. It is really important that the local and national government do everything they can to support people who are at risk of homelessness.”

Read Emmaus UK’s full statement on the figures here.