Trident Chief ‘Tackling Homelessness Must Be A Priority
Published by Dawn Prentice for Dawn Prentice Communications in Housing and also in Care and Support, Communities, Education, Environment, Health
Marking 'Poverty and Homelessness' week, John Morris, Chief Executive of Trident Social Investment Group, which houses 6,000 people across the Midlands, has called on government and policy-makers to tackle the growing homelessness crisis as a priority for 2014. During the last three years, ‘official’ homelessness has climbed by one third to stand at more than 50,000 homeless families accepted by local councils. The number in cheap bed and bed breakfast hotels has jumped by 10 per cent in the last year alone. And overcrowding has risen to more than 1 million. Trident’s homeless lettings analysis comes in the wake of announcements of figures showing that the West Midlands is now a national hotspot with homelessness soaring by 28 per cent in the last two years alone.
As John Morris explains: “Those of us who work at the sharp end of the UK’s housing system are witnessing a return to high levels of homelessness of all kinds – statutory homelessness as defined by those households accepted through the local council route, homelessness that falls outside the legal framework, and hidden homelessness including concealed, sharing and overcrowded households.
“At Trident, we are experiencing a massive increase in the proportion of our annual lettings made to homeless applicants. Over half of our lettings in 2011/12 were made to homeless applicants for the first time in our 50 year history and this has since grown to 53 per cent in 2012/13. This is equivalent to a fourfold increase from a decade ago.”
“The growing levels of homelessness across the country are being precipitated by a lack of social housing, rising private sector rents and evictions, deepening austerity, the effects of welfare cuts, and long-term and rising youth unemployment. What is most worrying is that three quarters of Trident’s lettings to homeless applicants were to those assessed as ‘non-statutory’ homeless and who are not recorded in the official figures. These are mostly young, single, living in temporary housing such as hostels and bed and breakfast, sleeping on friends’ floors, or living rough.”
Morris says: “My wish for 2014 is that the government recognises the damage being done to already vulnerable people and communities, especially in the inner areas of our major towns and cities but also in rural pockets. We are storing-up problems for the future when building social housing could provide new homes, new jobs and contribute to the economic recovery in regions such as the West Midlands”