“Sharp increase in families on brink of becoming homeless”

“The number of families at risk of becoming homeless has risen by more than 10 per cent as councils struggle to support people living in overcrowded accommodation or facing eviction.

In the first three months of this year 70,430 households were judged to be on the brink of being made homeless, up from 63,620 in the previous quarter, the latest figures showed.

Local authorities have placed 84,740 families and couples in temporary housing, including 126,020 children, the highest figure in a decade.

A report last month by Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, showed that thousands of children were living in converted shipping containers and office blocks after being classed as homeless.

Yesterday’s figures were published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government a year after rules came into effect requiring councils to do more to prevent people from becoming homeless. It doubled to 56 days the period over which they must assess a person’s risk.

The most common reason for people becoming homeless, affecting 18,150 households, was family or friends no longer being willing to provide temporary shelter. The second most frequent cause was the termination of a shorthold tenancy by the landlord, which applied in 14,700 cases.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said more homes should be built for rent by people on low incomes rather than for better-off private buyers.

“It is unacceptable that the number of families living in temporary accommodation has been allowed to reach an eight-year high with no real action to tackle the root of the problem,” she said.

David Renard, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman and Conservative leader of Swindon borough council, welcomed extra funds announced in the budget to support homeless people but said that long-term funding was needed.

“A lack of affordable housing has left many councils struggling to cope with a rising number of people coming to them for help and are having to place more families and households into temporary and emergency accommodation as a result,” he said.

Luke Hall, a housing minister, said the Homelessness Reduction Act, which came in last year, was “helping people earlier so they are not having to experience homelessness in the first place”. He said the latest figures showed that progress was being made. “There is still more to do, though, which is why we have committed a record investment to ending homelessness and rough sleeping for good.”

The government published a separate report which showed that the number of vulnerable people sleeping rough had fallen by one third.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

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