Rise in older peo­ple left with­out a home

Coun­cils warn of ‘tick­ing time­bomb’

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - JOSEPH KEITH NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT ■ Email: joseph.keith@jpress.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

COUN­CILS: The na­tion is fac­ing a “tick­ing time­bomb” of home­less­ness, lo­cal author­ity chiefs have warned, as new fig­ures re­veal an alarm­ing rise in the num­ber of older peo­ple sleep­ing on the streets.

We are fac­ing a tick­ing time­bomb in older home­less­ness. Coun Izzi Sec­combe, Lo­cal Govern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion.

THE NA­TION is fac­ing a “tick­ing time­bomb” of home­less­ness, lo­cal author­ity chiefs have warned, as new fig­ures re­veal an alarm­ing rise in the num­ber of older peo­ple sleep­ing on the streets.

Rapidly in­creas­ing rent prices and stag­nat­ing in­comes have been blamed by coun­cils for the in­crease, which has seen a spike in the num­ber of peo­ple aged over 60 be­com­ing home­less.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties ac­cepted some 620 older peo­ple, equiv­a­lent to al­most 10 ev­ery day, as home­less between April and June.

The fig­ure has more than dou­bled since Oc­to­ber 2009, when 270 older peo­ple were ac­cepted as home­less by coun­cils.

The Lo­cal Govern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (LGA), which rep­re­sents more than 370 coun­cils in Eng­land and Wales, has warned that home­less­ness in older peo­ple is a grow­ing hid­den phe­nom­e­non that could be set to dou­ble again by 2025.

Coun Izzi Sec­combe, chair­man of the LGA’s Com­mu­nity Well­be­ing Board, said: “Tra­di­tion­ally home­less­ness is as­so­ci­ated with young peo­ple and it is a tragic fact that a per­son suf­fer­ing home­less­ness lives to an av­er­age age of only 47.

“But we are fac­ing a tick­ing time­bomb in older home­less­ness, with an alarm­ing rise in the num­ber of older peo­ple be­com­ing home­less. While the ac­tual

num­bers are rel­a­tively low, at the cur­rent rate, this will spi­ral in just a few years.”

The LGA yes­ter­day launched a new re­port, ti­tled The Im­pact of

Home­less­ness on Health, at its Na­tional Chil­dren and Adult Ser­vices Con­fer­ence in Bournemouth, which high­lights the ris­ing num­ber of older home­less peo­ple and warns of the ex­tra pres­sures coun­cils will face as a re­sult.

It is call­ing on the Govern­ment to ad­dress an “un­der­sup­ply” in spe­cial­ist hous­ing for older peo­ple.

Coun­cils need to be able to bor­row to in­vest in new coun­cil hous­ing to in­crease sup­ply, boost home own­er­ship and re­duce home­less­ness, the LGA has warned.

Older home­less peo­ple are pre­sent­ing to coun­cils with a range of com­plex con­di­tions, in­clud­ing men­tal health problems, al­co­hol abuse and gam­bling problems, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Other fac­tors that can con­trib­ute to home­less­ness in later life are the death of a rel­a­tive, a re­la­tion­ship break­down or ac­com­mo­da­tion problems.

Coun Sec­combe added: “Home­less­ness is not just a hous­ing is­sue.

“Home­less­ness and ill-health are in­trin­si­cally linked, and this is es­pe­cially ev­i­dent in el­derly peo­ple.

“Coun­cils want to end home­less­ness by pre­vent­ing it hap­pen­ing in the first place; we need Govern­ment to al­low coun­cils to build af­ford­able homes and to adapt wel­fare re­forms to en­sure hous­ing re­mains af­ford­able for low-in­come fam­i­lies.”

The lat­est fig­ures, re­leased by the Govern­ment, come af­ter po­lice an­nounced on Wed­nes­day that a new project is be­ing launched in York­shire to help the most vul­ner­a­ble home­less peo­ple.

The Hud­der­s­field ini­tia­tive is a part­ner­ship between West York­shire Po­lice and Safer Kirklees.

It aims to en­cour­age and sup­port home­less peo­ple in Hud­der­s­field town cen­tre in a bid to help them find ac­com­mo­da­tion, as well as com­bat­ing street beg­ging by work­ing with the Hud­der­s­field Mis­sion char­ity.

COUN IZZI SEC­COMBE: Said the Govern­ment must al­low coun­cils to build homes.

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