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Homeless turned away

October 09 2013
More than a third of the homeless households who ask the government for help to find somewhere to live are being turned away, new statistics show

More than a third of the homeless households who ask the government for help to find somewhere to live are being turned away, new statistics show.

Almost 30,000 applicants requested local authority help to find homes during the second quarter of 2013, but the only households entitled to support are those that include children, or older or vulnerable people, and who are found to have become homeless unintentionally.

The 13,460 households in this situation – five per cent more than the same time last year – received a council or housing association home, or were placed in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs, hostels or privately rented flats until social housing became available.

But one in five of those who requested help were found to be unintentionally homeless but not in priority need. According to housing charity Homelessness Link, many of these are single people who don’t have anywhere else to go, or who may face challenges with health, but aren’t considered ‘vulnerable enough’ to be housed. And almost one in 10 households were found to be in priority need but intentionally homeless –they have nowhere to live because of something they did or failed to do, so they did not qualify to be supported into housing by the council even though they were vulnerable.

A quarter of the applicants were turned away because the council decided they were not homeless – however, this group may include those who would benefit from help in moving due to situations such as overcrowding or housing that is in poor condition.

Concerns were also raised because more than a quarter of those accepted as homeless were in that position because their private rented tenancy had been ended by their landlord and they were unable to find anywhere else to live – an increase of a third over the same period in 2012.

According to homelessness charity Crisis, this change is due to housing benefit cuts, which mean that more people reliant on local housing allowance are unable to find anywhere that they can afford to rent.

Homeless Link’s Chief Executive, Rick Henderson, said: “We know that councils are stretched, but we need to ask what happens to those who aren’t given access to help. “When people have no place to call home, they need effective support to prevent them from turning to the alternative of sofa-surfing, squatting or sleeping rough. “The bottom line is that we urgently need to increase the supply of affordable homes.”

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