More pushed into homelessness in South Tyneside due to coronavirus pandemic

More people have been pushed into homelessness in South Tyneside as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, town hall chiefs have been told.

By James Harrison
Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 6:01 pm
South Shields Town Hall.
South Shields Town Hall.

The official number of ‘verified’ rough sleepers living in the borough currently stands at just four.

But many more could be stuck in precarious housing situations or at risk of ending up on the streets due to the strain the virus has put on local authority services and the housing market.

“[COVID-19] has had an impact on our housing market, but it has also specifically had an impact on homelessness and we have had an increase in the number of rough sleepers,” said Anna Milner, housing strategy operations manager at South Tyneside Council.

“They may previously have been sofa surfers or may have been in insecure accommodation, but COVID has made this unsuitable or no longer possible.

“We’re working tirelessly to try and ensure everyone is off the street, has been made accommodation offers and that anyone with complexities or vulnerabilities are supported as best we can.”

Ms Milner was speaking at a meeting of the borough council’s Housing Performance Panel, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

She added the four known rough sleepers had been offered accommodation ‘on more than one occasion and refused’.

The controversial Universal Credit benefit is also thought to have had an impact on homelessness in the area, although council bosses have struggled to prove a direct link.

However they claim it presents a ‘barrier’ to tenants trying to access private rented accommodation due to the reluctance of landlords to accept claimants.

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