'Housing emergency' declared as Northumberland families left with no permanent home
More than 170 families in the North East don’t have a permanent home to live in.
New government figures reveal an astonishing 173 families across our region were living in temporary accommodation at the end of June this year.
This means they had been housed by councils because they had no permanent place to live.
The shocking figures also reveal 139 children were without a home and living in temporary accommodation at the end of June.
Campaigners have urged the new government to “turn its attention on our worsening housing emergency”.
Northumberland reported 11, and County Durham 15.
Gateshead had the highest number of homeless households, with 61 families without a permanent place to live.
That was followed by North Tyneside’s 39, Newcastle on 28, and Sunderland with 16.
South Tyneside, on the other hand, had just three families in temporary accommodation.
The 173 families in temporary accommodation was significantly up from 109 recorded at the end of June the previous year.
Coun John Adams, cabinet member for housing at Gateshead Council, said: “Homelessness in the UK has shot up in recent years, because of changes in legislation, the introduction of universal credit, years of austerity, and so on. So the challenge we face gets steeper every year, and we need to recognise the work of Council staff and the Gateshead Housing Company staff who prevented over 1,600 cases of homelessness in the borough last year.
“And for those individuals and families who do find themselves homeless, we do our best to offer them high-quality support. Most are housed in fully furnished council homes, and we make sure that a support worker drops by on at least a weekly basis to help them find a permanent home that suits their circumstances.
”These lets are on a temporary basis, but it is not the same as placing families in B&Bs or hostels. We don’t do that for families in Gateshead unless it is an extreme emergency, and even then only for a very short period of time while we find them something better.
”Because we let quite a few fully furnished Council houses on a temporary basis to homeless families, we have a high score in these figures. If you looked at just hostels or B&Bs, I think the rankings would be very different.
“We don’t feel the issue of homelessness in Gateshead is different to that facing any other local authority in the region, and here in Gateshead we are committed to tackling the root causes of homelessness which includes working closely with private sector landlords and other housing providers.”
The new figures come at the same time as housing charity Shelter’s annual report, which found at least 280,000 people are homeless across England.
The analysis revealed around one in 200 people are sleeping rough, or living in hostels and temporary accommodation.
Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “This is an emergency that is tipping thousands of people into homelessness, forcing parents to raise children in grim B&Bs and uprooting families from their jobs, schools and loved ones.”
Across England, 86,130 families were living in temporary accommodation at the end of June this year – up from 82,390 families the previous year.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “We have a moral imperative to act to reduce homelessness.
“One homeless person is one too many and this Government is taking action to protect those most at risk.
“Last year the number of homeless people sleeping rough fell by two per cent.
“More people are getting the support they need to start rebuilding their lives – backed by £1.2billion in funding to reduce all forms of homelessness and rough sleeping, the duty we’ve placed on councils to provide vital help to those who need it, and our commitment to building the homes this country needs
“But there is more we can do – which is why we committed in our manifesto to more integrated working of local health and housing services and the renewal of the affordable homes programme, helping prevent people from falling into homelessness.”