Scheme to tackle homeless numbers

CUTTING its £360,000 a year bill for housing the homeless has today been made a top priority in the Suffolk Coastal area.Councillors have drawn up a strategy to prevent homelessness before it happens – with the aim to have no-one in bed and breakfast by next spring.

CUTTING its £360,000 a year bill for housing the homeless has today been made a top priority in the Suffolk Coastal area.

Councillors have drawn up a strategy to prevent homelessness before it happens – with the aim to have no-one in bed and breakfast by next spring.

The new plan to deal with increasing demands for housing has been put together with input from homeless people and those working with them.

Councillor Stephen Burroughes, cabinet member for housing, said: "Our principle aims are to reduce the levels of homelessness, especially repeat cases, by offering more support and advice to those households most likely to find themselves with nowhere to live.


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"By working with partner organisations in this district we hope to be able to cut the number of families that become homeless, but our other major aim is also to ensure that better temporary accommodation is used with the goal of no families in bed and breakfast hotels by next March."

Last year, the council's homelessness team dealt with 413 cases, of which 174 met were accepted as being officially homeless, with 103 of these being families.

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Problems faced by people included ending of tenancies, or being told to leave the house of their parents or friends, or a broken relationship, often with violence from a former partner.

"The district is facing real housing problems. The waiting list for rented housing is growing, more private landlords are cashing in and selling their properties, and local people are being priced out of the market," said Mr Burroughes.

"We hope to increase the number of affordable homes by changing our planning policies, but we must also do more to try and stem the increasing amount of homeless cases.

"If we are successful in preventing evictions, whether by mediating with landlords, parents, friends or partners, then it will help take a little pressure off a creaking system.

"There is a very real human cost with every homeless case, that is why we are also trying to ensure a better quality of temporary accommodation.

"However, there is also a financial cost – we are set to spend £150,000 on putting families in bed and breakfast this year, and the total cost of our homeless service is £360,000. For our homeless families, and also for all our residents, we must succeed in tackling this problem."

Law requires councils to house homeless people in priority need – mainly households with children, but also some single people who are vulnerable due to age or health problems.

To be re-housed permanently, homeless households must not have deliberately made themselves homeless and in the majority of cases must have a connection with the Suffolk Coastal area.

n What do you think should be done to help the homeless? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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