Concern over rise in homelessness figures

Almost 350 people have presented themselves to Crawley Borough Council as homeless in the past 10 months – with the figure expected to top 400 by April.

A report which went before the council’s overview and scrutiny commission detailed the steps being taken to tackle homelessness.

Should the estimate prove accurate, the figures will have almost doubled since 2009/10 – but will still be lower than the south east average.

The main reasons given for presenting as homeless were eviction by parents or loss of a private sector home.

As of December 6, 303 people had been placed in temporary accommodation and a further 82 in bed and breakfast, compared to 262 and 61 in 2011/12.

But less than one half of those who approached the borough for help were accepted as being homeless. Reasons for refusal included intentional homelessness; having no UK residency rights; and not being classed as having a priority need.

The council put the increase in numbers down to the difficult economic climate and stated that it was working on more than a dozen initiatives to tackle the problem.

These included lending deposits for private rents and acting as a guarantor for private tenants as well as undergoing mediation and outreach work with people under threat of losing their accommodation.

Cllr Richard Burrett, Cabinet member for housing, said: “We’re facing significant challenges as the economic climate takes its toll and more people find themselves in impossible situations in terms of housing. We are concerned some people are in difficult positions in bed and breakfast accommodation with a small number even placed outside of the borough.”