Not quite. Every year councils do a ‘snapshot’ of their area’s rough sleepers, by going around one evening and basically doing a headcount. All the guidance repeatedly reminds them that you can’t use this to estimate the actual number of street homeless, but hey, they do it anyway. Also, for the comment above, the article doesn’t say there are either 500 homeless or rough sleepers (a really important distinction) in the city, it says that two celebrities have paid for about five hundred hotel rooms. Your local authority may do additional checks, which is great, but these are the figures the government uses and those additional checks are definitely not nationwide.
I do some work for a nightly homeless provision center, one of several in my area, and I can tell you that the official figures in my area are off by, well, a lot. I take part in these for work. We typically find less than half of the clients we know for a fact are rough sleeping, and of those, we often can’t count many since they specifically need to be bedded down when you find them. On our street count two weeks ago our team saw at least 10 people that weren’t in their sleeping bag when we happened to come by, and thus couldn’t be included in the official count.
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