Hertsmere Borough Council meets to discuss homelessness in Hertfordshire

As new figures are released showing a dramatic rise in homelessness in Hertsmere, councillors will meet to discuss how to reverse the “worrying” trend.

Figures released by Hertsmere Borough Council in its draft Homelessness Review and Strategy Report show the number of people accepted as homeless in the borough has increased by 51 per cent, from 79 to 119 in the past year.

From the 1 July 2013 to 30 September 2013 Hertsmere had 163 homeless enquiries and out of these a total of 91 were from Borehamwood.

Of these, 28 per cent were young people who could no longer be accommodated by their parents and 24 per cent were made homeless due to the breakdown of a relationship.

The rest found themselves at the end of a shorthold tenancy, were thrown out by relatives or friends, or fled domestic abuse.

At the end of March, there were 69 households in temporary accommodation, an increase of 28 from the same time the year before.

The majority of these, 22, were accommodated in hostels or women’s refuges and more than half stay in temporary accommodation from between six months to a year.

People of white British ethnicity made up the majority of those accepted as homeless, with 17 being accepted between January and March. This compares to two Chinese households being accepted in the same period.

On average, 100 households a month seek advice from the council’s housing prevention officers on how they can avoid losing their homes.

The rise in homelessness has been attributed to a lack of affordable housing in the borough and having to compete with London boroughs for a limited supply of temporary accommodation.

Homelessness is expected to rise still further as planned national welfare benefit changes, such as reducing Government spending by £18bn by 2014 has an impact on lower income families.

Universal Credit, which comes in next year, could also contribute to an increase as people living in privately rented accommodation may not be able to set aside enough money each month from their benefit to pay the rent.

The council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee will meet tomorrow at Hertsmere Council’s Civic Offices in Elstree Way in Borehamwood to discuss the report and strategies for bringing homelessness under control.

These will include managing the effects of welfare reform, increasing access to private sector accomodation and ensuring the council has access to more temporary accommodation.

Councillor Seamus Quilty, who is responsible for housing, said: “The development of our new Homelessness Strategy comes at a time of great change in housing, welfare and social policy. There are continual pressures on housing and an affordability crisis in the area, which is likely to increase in future years.

“Many of the issues facing us are outside the direct control of the local authority.

“Nonetheless, we need to plan ahead, prioritise and propose actions to build on our past success mitigate the impacts of changing housing markets, social and welfare reform and above all, prevent homelessness."

Comments (1)

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10:54am Thu 5 Dec 13

volunteer4d1 says...

Re-allocate some of the flats that are to be built on the Isopad House development it's obviously not an immediate solution. Also take a look around the borough and see how many long term empty properties the council could buy, revamp & get occupied by tenants. Some councils already do this and have been doing so for many years
Re-allocate some of the flats that are to be built on the Isopad House development it's obviously not an immediate solution. Also take a look around the borough and see how many long term empty properties the council could buy, revamp & get occupied by tenants. Some councils already do this and have been doing so for many years volunteer4d1

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