Homes are needed to cope with homeless

LOW wages and high house prices have led to a surge in homeless clients being helped across the Bognor Regis area.

The number of applications from homeless people accepted by Arun District Council is set to almost double in just two years.

The latest figures show the council accepted 61 applications in the three months from this April.

This will lead to some 250 in the current council year if the trend continues. It compares to 129 homeless clients housed by the council in 21012/13.

A council spokeswoman said: “Since 2011, councils across the country have reported an increase in the number of people approaching them for assistance who are owed a statutory duty to 
be housed.

“Arun’s figures follow the national trend.

“The reasons for this increase in homeless figures are complex, but the fundamental factor is the downturn in the economy and the affordability of housing.”

The need to accommodate this growing number of people has led Arun to take on powers brought in by the government in 2012 to use private rented homes for homeless clients who are eligible for help.

The council’s housing and customer services working group agreed last Thursday to adopt the powers. The decision has to be ratified by the council’s cabinet before it can take effect.

“A number of local authorities have adopted policies to use these new powers as part of a solution to accommodating the increasing numbers of homeless clients to whom they owe a statutory duty,” said the spokeswoman.

Members of the working group said it was important the landlords whose properties were used would be supported and that potential tenants were placed carefully.

It was noted that, if the scheme was accepted, the council would require an increased amount of private rented housing stock and would need to encourage landlords to join its accreditation scheme.

The scheme has 56 landlords with 98 properties around the district.

A meeting of the district landlords forum, which was launched more than 20 years ago, is being held on November 12 at Bognor Regis Town Hall to which new members will be welcomed.

To be accepted as a homeless client, a series of conditions has 
to be met. If that is the case, Arun has a legal duty to accommodate the applicant.

A report to the working group by Arun’s housing services manager, Judy Knapp, and Louise Crane, a principal environmental health officer, showed an increasing number of allocations to council and housing association properties, 27 to 41 per cent, since 2012.

They said this proved the need for an alternative source of housing to meet the homelessness demand.

The private rented homes must be suitable in location and condition.