Homeless households have doubled in last two years, council reveals

THE number of households finding themselves homeless in Hastings and St Leonards has doubled in the last two years.

The damning figures were revealed on Monday (October 7) to councillors at their cabinet meeting.

From April 2010 to April 2011 there were 119 families who applied to the council for emergency accommodation. Over the same period from 2012 to April this year, it stood at 242.

In his report, which was presented to the cabinet committee, Andrew Palmer, the authority’s head of housing and development, said incidences of rough sleeping had increased in Hastings in recent years and that the council was seeing an increasing number of households needing assistance with additional support surrounding mental health and substance misuse.

Those renting property is also considerably higher compared than the rest of the south east and is 70 per cent bigger than the national average.

Councillors unanimously adopted a new Homelessness Strategy in a bid to tackle the problem.

In it includes a pledge to clamp down on rogue landlords, improving existing housing, licensing Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and tackling rough sleeping.

Cllr Kim Forward, lead member for housing and community services, said: “Our new two-year Homelessness Strategy is being implemented at a time of significant economic uncertainty and coincides with very serious changes in central government housing, welfare and social policy.

“There are continual pressures on housing in Hastings which are likely to increase in future years as more households struggle to find housing suitable for their needs.”

Cllr Andrew Cartwright said: “The number of households presenting themselves as homeless is double the figure it was before the Government brought in these welfare reforms.

“It’s extremely shocking. If you do not have a decent home you are missing part of the bedrock and foundation of having a decent life at all. It’s an indictment of the Government’s policies that so many people are facing homelessness.”

Cllr John Hodges said: “We are beginning to see a worrying trend of economic migrants here and people being driven from their homes because of changes in housing benefits.”