Shocking figures today reveal South Tyneside as the ‘homeless capital’ of the north east.
Statistics published by housing charity Shelter shows there are 290 people classed as homeless in the borough.
That works out at one in 521 of the borough’s population - a ratio far worse than anywhere else in the region.
The borough has more homeless people than big, neighbouring cities Newcastle (123) and Sunderland (73).
And in terms of ratio, it is twice as bad as the next worst part of the north east, Middlesbrough, where one in 1,060 people are said to be homeless.
The data was gathered by analysing a combination of the most up-to-date government statistics, freedom of information requests, and other published homelessness data.
It has been released 50 years to the day of Shelter’s formation, and has also revealed 1,900 people are homeless in the North East.
Coun Allan West, lead member for housing and transport at South Tyneside Council, said: “Homelessness is a national issue that should concern us all. We have been working very hard to prevent homelessness before it occurs and have actually seen a 37.7 % decrease in homelessness in the borough over the past five years.
“We recognise the devastating consequences of homelessness and make strenuous efforts to combat this issue. Wherever we can, we step in to try and prevent households becoming homeless before they reach crisis point.
“South Tyneside Council has a homelessness strategy which has made preventing homelessness one of our top priorities.
“This aims to tackle homelessness by earlier intervention and prevention activity, working with partners to prevent homeless situations.
“The council is competing alongside other Councils in bidding for government Homeless Prevention Funding to increase capacity to prevent homelessness at a much earlier stage in all cases.
“Through our homelessness forum, which involves landlords, public health and third sector organisations, we are committed to working in partnership to tackle this issue, share good practice and support people at risk of homelessness.
“Our Homefinder service offers a range of advice and assistance to those who are at risk of homelessness including negotiation with other housing providers and lenders on behalf of those in payment difficulties to help them remain in their home.
“Our Welfare Support Team, offers benefit advice and support to residents of the borough, including maximising income and discretionary payments to assist those in greatness need remain in their accommodation.”
Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: “Shelter’s founding shone a light on hidden homelessness in the 60s slums.
“But while those troubled times have faded into memory, 50 years on a modern day housing crisis is tightening its grip on our country.
“Hundreds of people in the North East will face the trauma of waking up homeless this Christmas.
“Decades in the making, this is the tragic result of a nation struggling under the weight of sky-high rents, a lack of affordable homes, and cuts to welfare support.
“We all face the consequences when so many grow up without a place to call home.
“It breaks up communities and wreaks havoc on family life.
“For the sake of future generations we must pull together to end this crisis, and refuse to rest until every child has a place to call home.”
Shelter co-founder Des Wilson said: “It would be pleasing if Shelter were able to take time to celebrate its 50th year, but, as this report shows, it is too aware of what still has to be done.
“I hope the country will respond to its urgent rallying call with the same combination of anger and compassion with which it supported our work all those years ago.”
To support Shelter’s urgent Christmas appeal and help homeless families, visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70555 to donate £3.