Help for migrant families living in overcrowded homes

Migrant families living in overcrowded rented homes – one with 16 people in a single terraced house – are to be helped as part of a new council scheme.

Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 11:00 am
Migrant families are living in overcrowded rented homes in Page Hall

Council chiefs say there is a problem with overcrowded housing in Page Hall, linked to recent migration into the area. 

More than 4,200 long term migrants arrived in Sheffield in 2017, according to National Insurance data, with half coming from the EU. Three-quarters of migrants initially live in privately rented homes.

Councillor Paul Wood, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety. Picture: NSST-30-05-19-Wood-1

New families coming to Sheffield tend to move to neighbourhoods where they already know people, the council added, and Page Hall has seen people from the Roma, Polish, Pakistani, Afro Carribean, Indian and Italian communities arriving in recent years.

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Coun Paul Wood, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, toured Page Hall one evening and found 30 people living in two houses. 

“I was shown one house with over 14 people staying in it and another with 16 people in it,” he said.

“That’s 30 people in two houses. There’s not enough room in a two-up, two-down house so they outflow on to the streets, which is why the streets are full of youngsters.

Councillor Paul Wood, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety. Picture: NSST-30-05-19-Wood-3

“It’s not so much that the properties are deteriorating, it’s the occupancy. That’s true of every street in that area where there’s one or two houses which have more and more people staying in them.

“There were 50 to 60 children on the street at 8pm screaming and if there’s no room in the houses they are living in, it’s a major problem.”

The council has received almost £200,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to fund extra officers to work with families and landlords and find more suitable accommodation.

Janet Sharpe, director of housing and neighbourhoods service, said overcrowded houses can be a fire hazard, cause waste problems and affect people’s health.

Page Hall Road

She said: “When people enter Sheffield they naturally gravitate to an area where lots of people from their own country are residing and often that tends to be these two-up, two-down properties and the density is quite high.

“The conditions are not particularly that good despite landlords trying to make the best of the properties they have. 

“Before they can secure good accommodations, there is a culture that families come together in a family home.

“This is where we have people on the ground working with those households and what we try to do is say there’s too many people inside this home and help them secure other accommodation.

“But the first time someone comes to Sheffield they will always go to a place where they know lots of their own people are already living. In Page Hall we only have the stock that is available and that causes the overcrowding.

“Once people have started to settle, they tend to move and secure another property in that area but during that intervening period we do find there is a significant impact on the fabric of those properties.”

The extra housing officers will work in the neighbourhood checking people are safe and supporting them to find other accommodation.