"I'm homeless because I can't get a job."

These are the words of a man who has endured freezing temperatures on the city streets for the last three months. 

He spoke out as it was revealed the number of rough sleepers on the streets of Southampton has tripled in the last year.

Figures from the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities showed that the number of rough sleepers in the city hit 27 in autumn last year, up from nine the year before.

Alberto, from Romania who did not want the Echo to use his full name, has been unable to find a job to pay for rent.

Instead, he sits begging outside The Marlands shopping centre in Above Bar Street.

He told the Daily Echo: “I've been homeless for three months.

“I came to this country from Romania, back home I have five children.

“I want to find a job, but life has been difficult, you don't get the chance to work when you're homeless and I'm homeless because I can't get a job.

“I need £65 for a prescription for an infection in my cornea, I would like to have a doctor treat me but I can't afford it."

Responding to the increase of homelessness in Southampton, Trevor Pickup – Chief Executive of The Society of St James homeless charity, told the Echo: “The numbers are disappointing for Southampton.

“We don’t want to see an increase in rough sleepers but the figures aren’t necessarily surprising given the cost of living crisis.

“We’re looking to help as many as we can.

“The Society of St James has had an approved grant to open up more independent accommodation, as we’ve opened up three buildings with 20-bed spaces and we hope to open one more each year for the next five years.

“This will see people move from hostels into independent housing and therefore free up more space in the hostel.”

Shirley resident, Tony Weafer who runs the charity Lighthouse Support Group, added: “This has worried me for some time, the cost-of-living crisis has had to have had an effect.

“It’s very difficult indeed – I think the council just don’t have the accommodation for it.

“This is not going to go away; it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

In a statement, Southampton City Council said: “Everyone deserves shelter and a chance to rebuild their lives, and as a city we’ve taken hundreds of vulnerable people off the streets and provided them with safe accommodation.

“In Southampton, we work closely with partner organisations, statutory teams, health care providers and charity organisations to offer emergency accommodation and support for rough sleepers to move into more settled homes in supported and social housing and the private rented sector.

“Sadly, the government data shows that street homelessness continues to be a national issue.

“The cost-of-living crisis and high number of rough sleepers coming to Southampton, many of whom have complex needs and no connection to the area, has seen an increase in demand for services in the city and reduced access to affordable private accommodation.”