Fears of 'sudden spike' in homelessness in South Tyneside as pandemic bites

Town hall chiefs are preparing for a ‘sudden spike’ in homeless numbers as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic bite further.
There are fears of a surge in homelessness after the ravages of the pandemicThere are fears of a surge in homelessness after the ravages of the pandemic
There are fears of a surge in homelessness after the ravages of the pandemic

Government measures were supposed to offer some protections to the most vulnerable households struggling to make rent or mortgage payments.

But with arrears mounting this has simply kicked the can down the road for many, while others face the prospect of being forced on to the streets as a result of family breakdowns.

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“The eviction ban was extended so were waiting further news on how that will be affected in the future,” said Anna Milner, the South Tyneside Council’s housing strategy operational manager.

“My fear is we will see a sudden spike in homelessness as people increase their rent arrears, particularly in the private rented sector.

“We will have to deal with that as best we can.

“We’re hoping for the best but planning for the worst and will deal with everyone who comes through the door as best we can.”

Milner was speaking at this morning’s (Wednesday, January 6) meeting of the borough council’s Housing Performance Panel, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

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The government’s ‘Everyone In’ policy at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic saw rough sleepers taken off the streets and put in temporary accommodation, such as hotels and hostels, while long term solutions were considered.

No one placed in emergency accommodation in the borough during the first lockdown is still there, although according to Milner some chose not to accept offers of help finding permanent housing.

Attempts to stop people becoming homeless in the first place have also fallen, something also thought to be due to the impact of the pandemic.

“Despite the eviction ban we’ve still seen a massive increase in homeless presentation and a significant increase in rough sleepers ,” she added.

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“Although we don’t have evidence to prove this, we feel it’s because previously people may have been able to stay with a friend or family member for a couple of weeks until they could find more permanent accommodation.

“Due to restrictions people haven’t been able to go into each other’s homes and access has been restricted, meaning they have ended up on the streets.”

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