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22 June 2013, 06:05
New figures show a large rise in the number of families in East Cambridgeshire becoming homeless, and needing emergency council accommodation.
Statistics from East Cambridgeshire District Council show, in 2009/10, it was approached for help by 23 families.
During 2011/12, that figure had risen to 149.
During the last financial year, the Council spent £362,000 on emergency private bed and breakfast accommodation for families who have recently lost their homes, and need a place to stay.
The rise in families losing their homes and needing assistance from the Council is believed to be down to households not being able to afford rising rents, and the number of people losing their jobs and therefore becoming unable to pay rent.
Now, the Council has put together a plan to try and address this.
It includes re-opening a mothballed hostel in Littleport, which will provide bed and breakfast accommodation for people in dire need, without the need for them to be placed in private bed and breakfast establishments.
East Cambridgeshire District Council has pledged to:
Ensure that information and advice on housing and homelessness prevention is widely available.
Prevent homelessness wherever possible and develop new initiatives.
Develop initiatives for single people at risk of homelessness.
Reduce the number of households in bed and breakfast and ensure sufficient temporary accommodation is available.
Strengthen links with private landlords and lettings agents within the district.
The new approach aims to intervene before families find themselves homeless, rather than reacting to it after it has happened.
Councillor Peter Moakes, Chairman of Development and Transport Committee at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "Over the last year we have seen the pressures in the housing market build.
This led to our Housing team being inundated by people who, had become homeless.
This put a great strain on the Council's budget in order to cover the costs of the emergency solutions such as bed and breakfast accommodation.
The new strategy focuses on early intervention in order to help those who are threatened with homelessness.
We are developing better links with private landlords, creating new initiatives for single people and reopening of the Littleport hostel.
The key is to work together with our partners and encourage residents who are in trouble, to contact us at the first sign of difficulty.
By intervening early, there are many more options available to us to help people when they are in their greatest need."