Increase of rough sleepers in Brent fuels housing crisis fear
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Fears of a housing crisis in Brent have been fuelled by data showing the number of rough sleepers in the borough has rocketed by almost 500 per cent in three years.
According to the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN), 233 people were living on the streets of Brent last year – a 497 per cent increase from 39 in 2010.
There are fears the figures will become worse following alterations to the way the council allocates its social housing.
People in Band D, the lowest priority group, were removed from the list and told to seek privately-rented accommodation, in a bid to relieve pressure on social housing stock. Some residents in Band C were downgraded and also thrown off the list.
Nic Lane, of Brent Housing Action and Radical Housing network, said: “I think the figure will undoubtedly increase because of the changes in Brent’s social housing system.
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“The thousands who were struck off have been left to find private accommodation, in which landlords can charge a premium.”
Last year the government introduced changes as part of welfare reforms which included a cap on Housing Benefit payments and a “bedroom tax” which penalised some social housing tenants.
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Mr Lane added: “Admittedly the housing benefit cap and the bedroom tax has forced people onto streets, but more needs to be done to house some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
But John Doocey, director of community services of Ashford Place, a homeless charity in Cricklewood, claims the increase is down to the introduction of a more accurate way of pinpointing rough sleepers.
He said: “The only way you can reduce the amount of homeless people is by speaking to them.
“Gaining their insight is really important because their knowledge would help us figure out how to tackle and curb the issue in the future.”
Brent has seen the fourth highest increase in London with Hillingdon topping the list with 733 per cent more rough sleepers.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said the figures were a result of the government’s failure to build enough new homes.
He added: “The council is working with local homelessness projects, such as Ashford Place, to understand why Brent has seen such a shocking rise in homelessness.
“We have launched an ambitious programme to build 3,000 new affordable homes in the borough over the next four years.”