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Homelessness

Volume 464: debated on Friday 19 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how the Government defines people as being homeless. (157409)

Sections 175 to 178 of the Housing Act 1996 define the circumstances when a person is statutorily homeless. Broadly, this provides that a person is homeless if they do not have accommodation that they have a legal right to occupy, which is accessible and physically available to them (and their household) and which it would be reasonable for them to continue to live in. It would not be reasonable for someone to continue to live in their home, for example, if that was likely to lead to violence against them (or a member of their family).

“Guidance on evaluating the extent of rough sleeping (2007 Revision)”, which the Department has published for the purposes of local authority rough sleeping counts, advises that the following should be considered as ‘rough sleeping’:

“People sleeping, or bedded down, in the open air (such as on streets, or in doorways, parks or bus shelters); people in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or “bashes”)”

“Guidance on evaluating the extent of rough sleeping” has no statutory force.