50 per cent increase in numbers sleeping rough in Hertsmere

Watford Observer: 50 per cent increase in numbers sleeping rough in Hertsmere 50 per cent increase in numbers sleeping rough in Hertsmere

Councillors met last night to discuss how to reverse the "worrying" trend of homelessness as new figures released show a dramatic rise in Hertsmere, despite not having anyone in bed and breakfast accommodation.

Figures released by Hertsmere Borough Council in its draft Homelessness Review and Strategy Report show the number of people accepted as homeless in the borough has increased by 51 per cent, from 79 to 119 in the past year.

At the end of March, there were 69 households in temporary accommodation, an increase of 28 from the same time the year before.

Twenty two of these were accommodated in hostels or women’s refuges and more than half stay in temporary accommodation from between six months to a year.

The council said the rise in homelessness is down to a lack of affordable housing in the borough and having to compete with London boroughs for a limited supply of temporary accommodation.

The council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee met last night at Hertsmere Council’s Civic Offices in Elstree Way, Borehamwood, to discuss the report and strategies for bringing homelessness under control.

These will include managing the effects of welfare reform, increasing access to private sector accommodation and ensuring the council has access to more temporary accommodation.

Councillor Seamus Quilty, who is responsible for housing, said at the meeting: "I think we should all feel very proud of the people that work in the council in relation to how we are managing probably one of the most difficult areas this council is involved in.

"We offer a safety net here on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter what background you anyone can find themselves in a difficult situation with housing needs and the team concentrate on intervention at a very early stage to steer people in the right direction.

"There are unfortunately those who slip through that net slightly and actually have to be housed and what we have done is be successful in keeping families out of bed and breakfast because there is nothing worse than having a family staying in a hotel - they are human beings and at the end of the day we should try and help people sympathetically, sensibly and quietly because it is something very personal to people."

On average, 100 households a month currently seek advice from the council’s housing prevention officers on how they can avoid losing their homes.

At the meeting they said there was still "scope to do more".

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