Exeter Council insists emergency accommodation is available for rough sleepers
EXETER City Council has insisted that there is always emergency accommodation available for those who face a night on the streets.
The council has made tackling homelessness and rough sleeping in the city a top priority.
Cllr Rob Hannaford, Exeter's lead councillor for housing and community involvement, said: "Our latest research has shown that there are around 30 people rough sleeping in the city.
"That is 30 too many and we are constantly striving to reduce these figures and ensure that everyone in the city has a home."
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The city council last month carried out a street needs audit from 6am on Thursday, December 13 until 3am on Friday, December 14.
A total of 104 people were seen to be engaged in street activity, ranging from selling the Big Issue to busking, begging, nuisance behaviour and rough sleeping and it was estimated that about 30 are sleeping rough on the streets.
The city council funds Shot, the Street Homeless Outreach Team which is managed by the Shilhay Community.
Shot provides a street-based assertive outreach service for people who are sleeping rough, as well as advice and support to those vulnerably housed and at risk of having to resort to rough sleeping.
It carries out a twice-weekly early morning outreach to engage with people where they sleep and refer them to appropriate accommodation and services.
They build relationships with those who are reluctant to engage with services and check on the welfare and safety of those rough sleeping.
They also run drop-in sessions for confidential support and advice on accommodation options, sustaining a tenancy, safety and welfare on the streets, relevant services and referrals for appropriate accommodation.
The council also funds charity St Petrock's to provide a housing resettlement worker within HMP Exeter and to provide accommodation during severe weather.
Cllr Hannaford said: "There are so many complexities involved with homelessness and rough sleeping.
"It is rarely as simple as providing a roof over a person's head.
"People who find themselves out on the street often carry with them a number of challenging issues which aren't simply addressed.
"These often involve alcohol and drugs habits and because of these, certain individuals are reluctant to be housed in temporary accommodation if this means having to curtail their habit.
"A lot of people see the issue of rough sleeping as black-and-white; rarely is it as simple as that."
Cllr Hannaford added that there was always emergency accommodation available to those who are facing a night on the streets.
Exeter City Council backs the No Second Night Out campaign aimed at ensuring those who find themselves sleeping rough for the first time need not spend a second night out on the streets.
If people are concerned about somebody who is sleeping rough they can call a 24-hour helpline on 0800 151 3441.