Homelessness among young people in South Tyneside is getting worse, a borough charity boss warned today.
Figures released by the South Tyneside Churches Key Project show that the number of local young people presenting themselves to the charity as homeless every month has risen from 20 to 30 to between 30 and 50.
Controversial welfare reforms, including the so-called ‘bedroom tax’, have been blamed for some of the recent sharp rise in local homelessness among young people aged 16 to 25.
The group say more young people are also now relying on emergency food packs to get by.
Key Project chief officer Jean Burnside said: “There is no doubt that homelessness among young people is increasing.
“There are a number of reasons for this: shortage of suitable accommodation for young people, the impact of welfare reforms, particularly the so-called ‘bedroom tax,’ the increase in sanctions and a harsher regime.”
She added: “Debt is another major factor, which impacts on people becoming homeless and relationship breakdown is still the most common reason for young people having no home.
“We have also provided a record number of emergency food packs to young people in need – 380 in the year 2013/14, compared with 247 in 2012/13 and 165 in 2011/12.
“The demand for our services is increasing at the same time that the budget is decreasing.”
KEY Project say there has been an increase in the number of young people under 25 who present as homeless.
Between January 31 2014 and June 20 2014, 150 young people presented as homeless.
Out of 150, 96 of these were male and 54 female.
A further 50 vulnerable young people presented themselves as homeless between June 24 and August 15.
Miss Burnside added: “Initially, we had between 20 and 30 young people present themselves as homeless each month.
“This has increased to between 30 and 50 each month and the age is getting younger.”
The issue has been highlighted ahead of KEY’s annual general meeting on October 10, where the guest speaker will be South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
The AGM will be held at the Salvation Army Citadel, in Wawn Street, South Shields, on Friday, October 10, at 11am.
Miss Burnside added: “We are delighted that our speaker this year will be Emma Lewell-Buck.
“Since Emma’s election she has campaigned on a number of issues, including opposing the ‘bedroom tax’, calling for action on the cost of living crisis and reform of child protection.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 02 Oct 2014