More than 400 householders found themselves at risk of eviction from their rented South Tyneside homes in the last year, says homelessness charity Shelter.
New research, which uses Ministry of Justice figures, shows one in every 70 rented households in the borough was put at risk of losing their home.
Shelter say there were 416 possession claims – the first step towards an eviction – issued by a landlord between October 1, 2014, and the end of September this year.
The charity is warning a combination of rapidly rising rents, housing benefit cuts and a chronic lack of genuinely affordable homes will leave thousands of families battling to keep a roof over their heads this Christmas and is calling on the public to help donate to its emergency appeal.
Director of services Alison Mohammed said: “Our advisers will be working non-stop over the festive period to support families at risk of losing their home – but sadly our helpline is receiving a huge number of calls and our services are straining under the demand.
“We desperately need more support from the public to help us be there for these families and make sure no one has to fight homelessness on their own this Christmas.”
South Tyneside Council’s lead member for housing and transport, Coun Allan West said: “We have seen a 35% increase in the number of families or individuals presenting themselves as homeless over the past three years, with more and more people presenting as homeless due to loss of private tenancy.
“Despite this, we continue to do all we can to tackle homelessness and step in to prevent households becoming homeless before their case becomes critical.
“Following a review in 2013, South Tyneside Council developed a homelessness strategy which has made preventing homelessness one of our top priorities.
“As a social landlord, we have an early intervention approach to rent arrears and provide advice and welfare support services to help people maintain their tenancies whether they are in social or private housing.
“Eviction is always a last resort and is used when all other methods of engagement and arrears collection have failed.”
Anyone who wants to support Shelter’s Christmas appeal can visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70060 to donate £3.