The term ‘homelessness’ is often considered to apply only to people ‘sleeping rough’. However, statistics on homelessness relate to the statutorily homeless. Such households are rarely homeless in the literal sense of being without a roof over their heads, but are more likely to be threatened with the loss of, or are unable to continue with, their current accommodation.
Rough sleepers are defined as:
- people sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments), or
- people in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or ‘bashes’).
Poor housing or homelessness can contribute to mental health problems or can make existing problems harder to manage. Homeless people, including rough sleepers, experience poor health and wellbeing outcomes, some of them linked to homelessness itself and others to underlying problems, such as substance misuse or mental health problems that are often contributory factors in homelessness.