Homelessness at 10-year-high down to dramatically rising rents

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Homelessness in England has risen to its highest level for nearly 10 years, with a 15 per cent spike in the most urgent cases in Yorkshire in the last year alone.

The “heartbreaking” new figures show 924 pleas for help were made to local councils in Yorkshire by the highest priority households in the three months to June 2016. The rise in the number of these applications, from vulnerable people or families with young children, has largely been put down to an inability to keep up with drastically rising rents.

“These figures are a heartbreaking reminder of the devastating impact our drastic shortage of affordable homes is having,” said Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter.

“Every day we hear from families struggling to keep their heads above water when faced with the double blow of welfare cuts and expensive, unstable private renting. On top of this, stripped back budgets and a drought of affordable homes are making it increasingly difficult for overburdened councils to find homeless families anywhere suitable to live.”

The figures, released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), show that nationwide, a total of 15,170 households were classed as homeless in the three months to June 2016 - a jump of 10 per cent on the same period last year.

The last time a higher level was recorded in England was in 2008.

In Yorkshire, 924 applications for help were accepted by Yorkshire authorities, a rise of 15 per cent. The highest number was in Hull, with 129 households found to be priority homeless, compared to Kirklees with 109 and Bradford with 101.

Leeds is the only authority to see a fall in the number of people found to be priority homeless - with a drop from 150 to 98 for the same quarter in 2015.

Coun Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council executive member for communities said: “Our focus on preventing homelessness in the first place means that we can prevent homelessness in 80 per cent of the cases we deal with. Our deliberate move away from using temporary accommodation has allowed us to reduce these placements to their lowest levels since the 1980’s and we intend to continue this trend.”