Homeless priced out

PUBLISHED: 11:47 09 August 2007 | UPDATED: 12:43 04 May 2010

INCREASING numbers of people are being made homeless in East Cambridgeshire by rising house prices. The district council s principal housing officer Jane Hollingworth believes the problems are getting worse and will take a long time to resolve. She said:

INCREASING numbers of people are being made homeless in East Cambridgeshire by rising house prices.

The district council's principal housing officer Jane Hollingworth believes the problems are getting worse and will take a long time to resolve.

She said: "It's been a steadily growing problem and there are no signs that the situation will get better. We accepted 161 homeless people last year. This is just people from a priority need group. They may be ill or disabled or have children or other people who depend on them. The actual number is far greater than that."

NHS statistics show that East Cambridgeshire has significantly higher levels of homelessness than the national average.

In contrast, numbers of homeless people in Fenland, South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City are well below the national average.

Mrs Hollingworth confirmed there is a desperate shortage of social housing in East Cambridgeshire.

After carrying out a survey in 2002, the district council concluded that East Cambridgeshire needed more than 500 extra affordable homes per year.

Mrs Hollingworth said: "We are nowhere near reaching that target; it's been more like 200 a year and that includes shared ownership houses. Rents in the private sector are also rising."

She added: "The council is negotiating with landlords but a great deal of time and work is needed."

East Cambridgeshire District Council's first homelessness prevention officer starts next week.

Beverly Howard, manager of Ely and District Citizens Advice Bureau, said: "The majority of homeless people in the district are single men. Often when a relationship breaks up, the woman stays in the house with the children or qualifies for social housing and the man is left without a home."

Ms Howard believes there is a link between rising homelessness and debt.

She said: "There is a £5.5million debt in the district, which is mainly consumer debt from credit cards and loans. People are getting by on credit and local wages don't match the rising house prices."

Government figures show the average price of a house in East Cambridgeshire is £216,111.

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