Homelessness on the rise in South Tyneside

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homeless figures in South Tyneside have risen 50 per cent in the last year, while thousands of residents are left on waiting lists for social housing, a new report has revealed

The National Housing Federation (NHF) warns that families in the borough are being priced out of owning or renting their own properties, while not enough new social housing is being built to meet the growing demand.

Statistics show that there have been 353 requests – from individuals and families – to register as homeless and in priority need in the 2011/12 period, up from 235 the previous year.

Many of those without permanent accomodation will be staying with friends and family or in bed and breakfast.

South Tyneside Council confirmed that about 6,700 residents remain placed on the social housing waiting list, many of whom with young children or relatives.

The startling figures were contained in the NHF’s Home Truths 2012 report.

Monica Burns, North East lead manager for the NHF, said: “The social housing market is now over-congested. We have people who are renting privately who need to use housing benefit to afford the rent.

“This means they are in no position to get their own home. Unfortunately, we are in a housing crisis.

“The lack of affordable housing is a tragedy for families across the North East who are helplessly watching as the cost of renting or buying a home spirals out of reach.

“At the same time we know that various Government departments own disused land, such as derelict hospitals and disused schools, which could and should be used to build more homes.”

Coun Jim Foreman, lead member for housing and transport, said: “We recognise that providing decent and affordable homes for our families to live in is one of the most essential services we can offer, and are working with our partners to explore how we can deliver more.

“When the previous Government announced the biggest council house building programme in almost 20 years, we were the first council to secure funding and start work on site.

“Homelessness and the risk of repossession is a real problem in the North East. People who lose their jobs are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, and my fear is that the Government’s forthcoming changes to the welfare system are likely to worsen the situation.”