Increasing numbers at risk of losing their homes in Spa town, a new report warns

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THE economic crisis and rising unemployment means an increasing number of people in the Harrogate district are at risk of losing their homes, a new report has warned.

Council bosses at Harrogate Borough Council have revealed they are dealing with increasing numbers of people looking for help with housing. Between April 2012 and March 31, 61 households were accepted as homeless, while those needing temporary accommodation has risen by 18 per cent between April 2011 and November 1 this year.

The council’s cabinet member housing committee, Coun Mike Chambers, will be asked on November 19 to approve an action plan to tackle the issue.

A council report states: “The on-going economic crisis and rising unemployment, coupled with the implementation of fundamental welfare benefit reforms has resulted in an increasing number of households that are struggling to either secure or maintain their accommodation.”

The action plan includes setting aside cash to deal with families needing temporary accommodation and ensuring steps are in place to help rough sleepers when temperatures fall.

The Yorkshire Post has highlighted how affluent parts of the region are facing growing numbers of homeless due to the economic crisis. Last month, a charity which helps the homeless in Harrogate said the scale of the problem in the spa town was “staggering”. Harrogate Homeless Project said in the past 12 months it has had more than 150 referrals to its new homelessness scheme, No Second Night Out, far many more than had been anticipated.

Andy Kirk, the transition fund project leader at Harrogate Homeless Project, said: “Even we have been surprised by the number of people coming through the door. You might not see people sleeping on the streets but there are people sleeping rough in fields, in their cars and in local parks.

“And it isn’t always what it seems. Many people become homeless after a relationship breakdown, redundancy or are just struggling in these difficult times.”

The project was chosen last year as one of 18 towns and cities in England to roll out No Second Night Out, a programme designed to intervene as soon as a person becomes homeless. The charity works with other agencies to help the person into accommodation and jobs.