Homeless numbers double in two years
The number of homeless people in Kent increased again over the past year, new figures have revealed.
It comes as a charity working to tackle the issue in the county blasted the government’s “lack of compassion” towards the growing problem.
In the last 12 months, staff at Porchlight worked with 707 rough sleepers across the county.
The dramatic rise is almost double the number of people the street teams worked with two years ago, when the figure was 385.
The latest figures are reported between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 and were released this week.
But the charity, based in Canterbury with projects across Kent, says this could be just the tip of the iceberg with many rough sleepers hidden from view.
Porchlight’s chief executive, Mike Barrett, said the worrying speed of the growth of the problem was evidence of the government doing little to combat it.
He said: “Successive governments have pledged to tackle the problem with well meaning words and platitudes, only to introduce ever more callous policies that will increase the poverty and misery of vulnerable people.
“The reluctance to acknowledge the true size of the homelessness problem is evidenced by ongoing funding cuts which are leaving local councils struggling to find ways to deal with the issue.”
Charities have warned the problem is expected to grow even more in the next few years.
The sector has warned new cuts could leave 11,000 more young people at risk of being homeless in the next four years.
Changes are being made in 2021 to slash the housing benefit element of the Universal Credit scheme.
Mr Barrett added: “Charities need to stand up and suggest solutions.
“Although we won’t be able to solve the problem on our own, we will continue to come up innovative services that help provide real solutions and stop vulnerable people becoming homeless in the first place.”
The warnings come a week after homeless man, Sean Brady, died in Ashford town centre on April 7.
Porchlight’s 24 hour helpline is 0800 567 76 99 or visit www.porchlight.org.uk
Homelessness in the county is on the increase