Is the housing situation on the up?

NUMBERS of people claiming to be homeless in Ipswich are falling, figures revealed today.

NUMBERS of people claiming to be homeless in Ipswich are falling, figures revealed today.

But a senior councillor has warned there could be a “tidal wave” of homelessness over the next two years unless there is a radical increase in the numbers of new houses built in the town.

The statistics show that in the first three quarters of 2006/07 543 households told the council they were homeless.

That figure has fallen from 1,322 in 2003/04, 1,320 in 2004/05 and 713 in 2005/06.

The numbers of households actually being accepted as homeless - where the council recognises it has a legal duty to rehouse the applicant - also appears to be going down, despite a rise this year.

In 2006/07 so far, 174 households have been accepted, compared to 285 in 2003/04 and 331 in 2004/05. However, it is up on 05/06, which stood at 162.

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And the numbers in temporary accommodation has decreased from 204 in October 2005 to 180 in December last year.

The number of children living in temporary accommodation has dropped from 252 to 190 over the same period.

Ipswich Borough councillor Steven Wells, responsible for housing, claimed the figures are the result of hard work and policy change.

But he claimed the numbers of homes being built in Ipswich will not meet demand.

He said: “The number of people we are accepting as homeless is going down but we have a major problem.

“Interest rates are going up and if they continue to rise then more and more people who are on the breadline are going to be presenting themselves as homeless.

“People have re-mortgaged themselves to the hilt so they can go on the flash holidays and buy the nice cars.

“In 2001, there were 43 affordable homes built in Ipswich. This year there will be 300 and we hope to sustain that for the next two or three years, but realistically we need 770 just to stand still.

“It petrifies me. We could have a tidal wave of homeless families in the next couple of years.”

The homelessness figures echo the national picture. Homeless households totalled 17,310, in October to December in England last year, compared to a peak of 35,770 three years earlier.

What is the answer to the looming housing shortage? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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