Borough needs extra housing officer to combat homelessness

First published in News

TEST Valley Borough Council is to employ an additional housing officer to help people with the rapidly rising problem of homelessness – increasingly a result of parents kicking grown-up children out of their homes.

As well as dealing with general housing en-quiries, the appointee will provide advice to households when accommodation is affected by the impending welfare re-form changes.

On Wednesday evening, members of the borough council cabinet were told that homelessness was increasing rapidly because of the state of the economy, arrears, relationship breakdown and the lack of private rented accommodation in Andover and particularly in Romsey.

They heard that even before the impact of the welfare reform changes are apparent, expenditure on bed and breakfast was reaching an “unsustainable” level in Hampshire.

The number of homeless cases accepted by Test Valley has increased from 15 in 2009-10 (an historic low) to 53 in 2012-13, with three months of this financial year still to run.

Housing portfolio holder, Sandra Hawke, said: “One reason for the increase is the number of older single people staying longer with parents, who get fed up and then ask them to leave.”

She added that in appointing the new officer to deal with the impact of welfare reform legislation, Test Valley wanted to stay “ahead of the game”. adding: “We are trying to identify where problems may arise.”

One advantage local policy makers enjoy is that significant house building has continued through the recession, particularly in Andover, providing a constant flow of social housing.

Mrs Hawke added; “We are the envy of many other local authorities.”

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