More people than ever before are contacting a homelessness helpline fearing they are about to be forced onto the streets.
The charity Shelter has spoken to more than 2,000 people in the North East in the last year on the brink of homelessness – a 28% rise since 2012.
They also found that 28 households in the region are at risk of losing their homes everyday through mortgage and landlord possession claims.
Stephanie, who lives near Chester-le-Street, said she rang Shelter after her husband was injured in a serious accident and she could not keep up with mortgage payments without his wage.
“I found myself facing homelessness when my husband had a serious accident. He ended up in hospital in intensive care for months, and with his wage no longer coming in, we really struggled to keep up with the mortgage payments.
“We weren’t able to get assistance with my husband’s care, and without his wages, we just couldn’t keep up.”
At the same time as Stephanie was trying to secure specialist care for her husband, she said she was inundated with calls about the house from her mortgage company.
Eventually this culminated in a warrant for repossession which was issued a year ago – prompting Stephanie to call Shelter for the first time.
Shelter helpline adviser Nadeem Khan, who helps people in the North East, said:
“It’s so heart-breaking to hear from families struggling to keep a roof over their heads, especially around this time of year.
“Hearing the panic in a parent’s voice when they’ve just been evicted or had their home repossessed never gets any easier. Sadly, every year we get more and more of these calls over the holidays, and this Christmas will be no different.”
The number of people at risk of homelessness who called the Shelter helpline in the North East from October 2013 to September 2014 rose to 2,055 from 1,609 between October 2011 and September 2012, an increase of 28% or 446 people over two years.
As England’s shortage of affordable homes continues to push housing costs sky high, the charity is expecting even more families to be in desperate need of its help this Christmas.
Stephanie said calling Shelter after her husband became ill has changed things around for her family and they will now have a roof over their heads this Christmas.
She said: “There was no talking down to me, no telling me what I had to do.
“They referred me to a great adviser and they were absolutely fantastic, they’ve helped me so much.”
After securing more time from the court to look for somewhere else to live, Durham County Council helped her find a suitable bungalow that will accommodate her husband when he is out of hospital.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 19 Nov 2014