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Atlas 2022 Launch Blog Series: accommodation services

The Atlas 2022 refresh went live on the 8th March. This is the first in a series of blogs looking at some of the key data – firstly looking at supported housing and hostel accommodation.

Atlas 2022 Launch Blog Series: accommodation services

Core to the response to rough sleeping

 The Atlas is unique in providing an overview of the volume of accommodation spaces for people who are have experienced or are at risk of rough sleeping. ‘Accommodation’ refers to hostels and supported housing; by far the most common service within the homelessness sector.  There is no commonly agreed definition of hostels and supported housing but broadly speaking, hostels are fully staffed projects with single rooms and communal areas, while Supported Housing varies in the level of staffing and the extent of communal facilities. Supported Housing and hostels are generally intended for time-limited stays, for example a common period would be around two years, but this varies across services. Accommodation services are most commonly commissioned by local authorities and delivered by the voluntary sector.

The Atlas shows that there are over 11,000 accommodation spaces in hostels and supported housing. The 11,000+ spaces are across 266 ‘services’ – a service can be one building or several dispersed supported housing buildings which are managed by the same team.

We don’t have robust evidence on the effectiveness of this accommodation which is essentially our main intervention, to help end rough sleeping. The Centre for Homelessness Impact are hoping to change this with a new hostels study, exploring the models of accommodation and their effectiveness in England.  More information about this will be available from soon.

Areas with the highest number of spaces

 Six boroughs have more than 500 accommodation spaces. This includes Westminster (989 spaces), Tower Hamlets (833 spaces), Lambeth (776 spaces), and Camden (724 spaces) – areas with some of the highest numbers of people contacted rough sleeping over the year according to CHAIN figures (in the top third). It also includes two areas which are not in the highest third in terms of rough sleeping figures – Kensington and Chelsea (534) and Waltham Forest (662).

A quick look at the Infographic shows us that Kensington and Chelsea has a fairly complex network of accommodation services, which require people to have a local connection.  This suggests that there is a significant number of accommodation spaces commissioned by the council, which are used locally to help people move on from rough sleeping.

Waltham Forest on the other hand has two very large accommodation projects: a YMCA St Pauls Group hostel with 238 spaces (the largest in London) and Paradigm Housing Group Lee Bridge Hostel with 229 spaces.  These do not require a local connection. So, in this outer borough the high number of accommodation spaces reflects the presence of large services which provide a valuable source of accommodation to people from many boroughs. There are smaller services within the borough that do require a local connection to the area.

A factor in the large number of bed spaces in Tower Hamlets – the second highest number of bed spaces but the ninth highest number of people seen rough sleeping in a year –  is a large service, again not commissioned by the borough it is located in. The Queen Victoria’s Seamans rest has 163 spaces, requires no location connection to the borough and focusses on men who have a background in seafaring and military service, as well as others in need of accommodation.

Spread of providers

 The organisations providing the largest number of spaces are St Mungo’s (1,769), Look Ahead Care and Support (1,142) and YMCA St Pauls Group (1,047).  Providers with just one or two services provide a total of 2,965 beds, making a huge contribution to the overall map of accommodation in London.

Accommodation for women and young people

Using the third dropdown menu on the Infographic you can select to show just women’s services. This shows that there are nine women’s accommodation services across London’s Hostels and Supported Housing. In some supported housing projects there are particular houses that are women only despite the service being mixed overall. Some hostels also zone areas so women are in a particular part of a building.  Amongst the largest women’s accommodation services are The Marylebone Project (112 spaces) and Riverside Queen Mary’s hostel (49 spaces), both in Westminster, and Sapphire Independent Housing Bethany House (94 spaces) in Islington.

This dropdown also allows you to highlight services for young people. 24 of 33 London boroughs have some young person specific accommodation within services to prevent and alleviate rough sleeping. The areas with the largest number are Lambeth, Croydon, Wandsworth, Westminster and Tower Hamlets.

In the next of the 2022 Launch Blog series, we will look at longer term accommodation shown in the Atlas.

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