THE number of homeless people in Solihull has more than doubled in a year while a council chief maintains the rise is part of a government ‘success story’ in tackling the issue.
Green Party councillor Tim Hodgson has urged the council not to be complacent in trying to reduce the rapidly increasing figure.
Latest statistics from Solihull Community Housing (SCH) – the council’s provider of social and temporary housing – show an increase in the number of people presenting as homeless.
The number applying as homeless in the period from April to the end of November last year has seen a 60 per cent increase in the same period this year.
There were only 538 people applying as homeless during that period last year, rising to 1,146 this year.
Conservative cabinet member for the environment and housing, councillor Tony Dicicco, said the increase shows the government’s strategy to reducing homelessness is working.
Coun Tony Dicicco said: “Actually you could argue the figures are a success story in some respects because this government’s legislation is actually leading to more people being helped and prevented from becoming homeless.
“In Solihull we haven’t actually seen a big increase in people being homeless and SCH is actually working very hard to make sure people are not made homeless and can have accommodation for as long as they need it.”
Coun Tim Hodgson said: “It’s very alarming the increases that have taken place.
“I am sure the cabinet member will be aware of the report out last month by Shelter which is showing a four per cent rise nationally in homelessness.
“There are clearly particular problems in this region.”
Coun Hodgson did praise the council’s efforts to expand the options for temporary accommodation in the borough, specifically referencing Ipswich Walk in Chelmsley Wood.
It was opened last September to provide short-term accommodation for up to 25 residents who find themselves without shelter in the borough.
The Conservative government introduced the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 in April.
It extends local authority powers to prevent and manage homelessness while providing extra funding for appropriate accommodation and support.
The government hopes it will eliminate rough sleeping by 2027.