March 12 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Applications for homelessness to one west Suffolk council have more than quadrupled in just three years according to new figures.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council had received 225 applications up to October - up from only 51 in 2010, according to a Freedom of Information Request submitted by the EADT.
Charity workers in the area blamed the economic crisis and housing benefit reform for the dramatic rise, with applications numbering 101 in 2011 and 150 in 2012.
Chris Jones, senior client services manager at Home Group, which runs Britannia House in Bury St Edmunds, said: “The uncertain economic climate and changes resulting from housing benefit reform have seen more people struggling to keep a roof above their heads.
“Many people think of homelessness as rough sleeping, but there are a hidden number of people who sofa surf.
“Councils have been hit by reduced funding from Government and we’re working closely with them and other providers to support those in need.”
Homelessness applications are given priority based on circumstances, as well as being divided into either intentionally or unintentionally homelessness.
Of those 225 applications, 175 were found to be unintentionally homeless and in priority need. Only 12 were found not to be homeless.
As of October, 35 different cases had been placed in temporary accommodation awaiting a permanent solution, which included 37 children.
While applications were well up, the number of households being moved out of the homelessness system also increased, with 77 cases leaving the system in 2013 compared to 35 in 2012 and 25 in 2010.
Last month the EADT revealed the shortage of one-bedroom social housing in St Edmundsbury, with five properties up for allocation while 782 people waited on the housing list.
A spokeswoman from St Edmundsbury Borough Council said: “We are facing a very difficult situation as the availability of affordable housing nationally is exceeded by growing demand, and for some unfortunate people, this leads to unintentional homelessness.
“Our priority is to work to prevent homelessness occurring, because once this happens issues become even more difficult to resolve.
“Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury have restructured the West Suffolk Housing Options Team to adopt a more proactive approach, with officers responsible for localities and working with partners on the ground to intervene earlier to prevent homelessness.”
The council is also looking to discuss more partnerships with private landlords. Anyone interested should contact Pat Cassidy, the council’s landlord liaison officer, on 01284 757613 or at firstname.lastname@example.org