Charity shocked by huge rise in Yorkshire homeless crisis calls

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HOUSING charity Shelter has recorded a “dramatic increase” in demand for help from people at risk of becoming homeless in Yorkshire.

Figures released today by the charity show that in the Yorkshire and the Humber region the number of people its helpline has assisted who are either homeless, or face losing their home, has risen by 71 per cent in the last three years.

The number of families with children at risk of homelessness assisted by the helpline has risen by 45 per cent over the same period in Yorkshire.

The findings come after Shelter’s Christmas appeal warned that 900 children in the Yorkshire area will wake up homeless this Christmas, living in temporary accommodation such as bed and breakfasts or hostels.

A Shelter spokeswoman said: “The charity is concerned that rising rents, increasing living costs and ‘flatlining’ wages mean more and more families will struggle to keep up with their housing payments and could be at risk of losing their home in the months ahead.”

Over the past year, the charity’s website has also seen a 17 per cent national surge in visits to pages providing homelessness advice, compared to just a three per cent increase the year before.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “These figures are a shocking reminder of the daily battle so many families in Yorkshire and the Humber are facing just to keep a roof over their head.

“Through our helpline Shelter offers vital help to people who have hit rock bottom and have nowhere else to turn. Our advisers give them the advice and support they need to get back on their feet.

“With demand for our services rising by the day, the support of partners like Marks & Spencer is vital in making sure we can reach more families who need our help.”

Nationally, Shelter said it recorded an 80 per cent rise in calls, over three years, from people at risk of becoming homeless across the country.

The numbers at risk of becoming homeless have risen from 12,842 in 2009 to 23,086 in the 12 months to the end of September this year.

Calls from people “at risk of homelessness” included those reporting issues related to eviction, homes possession action or homeless applications.

In the last three years the numbers at risk of homelessness in Yorkshire who called the Shelter helpline rose from 500 to 854, the charity said.

And the number of families with children at risk of becoming homeless rose from 181 to 263 over the same period.

A charity spokeswoman said it did not have a breakdown of figures for each city and town. But she said London and the east of England had seen sharper rises in callers than Yorkshire and the Midlands.

Those experiencing family breakdowns were among those who called the helpline.

Julie, who asked not to be identified, contacted Shelter after her relationship with her husband broke down and she and her daughter had to leave the family home.

She recalled: “I had nowhere to go, so I returned to the area where I come from and my family lives. I made a homeless application, but the council refused to accept it as they said I have no local connection.

“I was desperate. I didn’t know what to do. As a last resort, I decided to call the Shelter helpline. They advised me on how to deal with the situation from a legal perspective and I managed to argue my case with the council.”

Julie and her daughter have now been re-housed.

Shelter’s helpline has already provided help to 57,000 people across the country so far this year.

andrew.robinson1@ypn.co.uk