A LEADING housing charity has called for action to tackle the homelessness crisis after shock new figures revealed one in 660 Worcester residents were homeless.
In the most extensive review of its kind, Shelter has combined official rough-sleeping, temporary accommodation and social services figures for their ‘Far from alone: Homelessness in Britain in 2017’ report.
The figures reveal homelessness across the West Midlands has increased by a staggering 22 per cent in a year to 20,900.
However the charity claims the true figure is likely to be even higher as Government records are not definitive.
In a bid to target the areas blighted by homelessness, Shelter mapped the top 20 hotspots in the region with the highest levels of homelessness.
Birmingham topped the list where one in every 88 people are homeless followed by Coventry with one in 229 and Solihull with one in 314.
Worcester is eighth in the list and the second local authority in Worcestershire just behind Wyre Forest where one in 605 residents are homeless.
According to the charity, 145 people in Worcester are sleeping in temporary accommodation with ten sleeping rough on the city’s streets.
The charity has called on city residents to support its advisers as they work to help people to stay in their home or find a new one.
Shelter Birmingham Hub manager, Vicky Hines said: “It’s shocking to think that today, almost 21,000 people in the West Midlands are waking up homeless.
“Some will have spent the night shivering on a cold pavement, others crammed into a dingy, hostel room with their children. And what is worse, many are simply unaccounted for.
“On a daily basis, we speak to people and families who are desperately trying to escape the devastating trap of homelessness.
“It’s a trap that is tightening thanks to decades of failure to build enough affordable homes and the impact of welfare cuts.
“As this crisis continues to unfold, the work of our frontline advisers remains absolutely critical.
“But we cannot achieve this alone; we urgently need the public’s support to be there for everyone who needs us right now.”
The charity claims across England, more than a third of people currently living in temporary accommodation will still be homeless in a year’s time.
In response, a Worcester City Council spokesman said: “The demand for affordable housing in Worcester is greater than the number of homes available; however we are working with a range of partners to try to increase the number of suitable properties in the city and surrounding area.
“Worcester City Council works in partnership with housing associations, the CAB and a range of other partners to provide housing advice, prevent people from becoming homeless or help them into accommodation.
“Anyone who feels they may be at risk of becoming homeless should contact us as soon as possible on firstname.lastname@example.org”
Responding to Shelter’s report on Homelessness, Coun Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, said:
“Every individual instance of homelessness is a tragedy. Councils are doing all they can to help homeless people in their communities and prevent homelessness happening in the first place.
“Homelessness is spreading across the whole country and causing a huge challenge for councils, which are having to house the equivalent of an extra secondary school’s worth of homeless children in temporary accommodation every month. The net cost for councils of funding temporary accommodation has tripled in the last three years, which is disruptive for families and unsustainable for councils.
“Councils need more resources from government to help tackle homelessness – the upcoming Autumn Budget is an opportunity to take steps to adapt welfare reforms to ensure housing remains affordable for low-income families, and allow councils to borrow to invest in building genuinely affordable homes once more.”