Homeless numbers up 38 per cent

Coun Ben Curran
Coun Ben Curran
Have your say

HOMELESSNESS in Sheffield has risen by more than a third in the last year, as crisis-hit residents were driven out of their homes.

Sheffield Council helped 273 homeless people in the first three months of 2011 - 38 per cent more than the 198 people it helped in the first three months of 2010.

But Labour councillor Ben Curran, who raised the issue at a full council meeting yesterday, said the true figures must be even higher - as they do not include people living with friends, in B&Bs, in refuges, in night shelters or people who are rough sleepers.

Coun Curran said: “This stark increase in homelessness in Sheffield is really alarming.

“A lot of people in Sheffield are facing tough times at the moment, so it’s worrying the Government is cutting support for people who find themselves in dire straits.”

The numbers include only those recognised as ‘priority need’ and offered help by council officers - including people fleeing domestic violence, juveniles or mums with young children.

Resident Peter Chapman, who attended the council meeting, asked councillors to act to widen the scope of those it can help.

“We are a city of sanctuary but we are sadly becoming a city of the homeless,” he said. “I would like to see the council take action to change housing priorities.”

Cabinet member for housing, Coun Harry Harpham, told Mr Chapman he would work with council officers to investigate what could be done.

He said: “There are those who think having a roof over your head is a fundamental human right and I certainly wouldn’t want to be without a home in one of the tough winters we have had recently.”

Lib Dem housing spokeswoman Coun Alison Brelsford welcomed the council’s support for World Homeless Day in October, but challenged why Labour had not put more resources into new housing in 13 years in government.