HOMELESSNESS across the district has rocketed – more than doubling in the past two years.
A total of 53 households – classed as anything from one person to a family – had to turn to Stratford District Council for emergency bed and breakfast accommodation in 2015.
But the number has risen to 115 in the past ten months.
The main reasons for people needing accommodation are due to breakdown of violent relationships, ending of assured shorthold tenancy and being evicted by parents. They echo the reasons for homelessness nationally.
The council currently has 23 houses and flats across the district available for homeless families.
But with so many people needing emergency temporary accommodation, the council has had to turn to using bed and breakfast accommodation to keep them off the streets. Council chiefs estimate by April nearly £90,000 will have been paid out on the provision of B&Bs in the past year.
With children legally only able to spend up to six weeks in such accommodation the council is now urgently looking for an alternative to deal with the spiralling problem.
Lib Dem district councillor Jennifer Fradgley said: “These are worrying figures. As a teacher I saw first hand the impact bed and breakfast accommodation had on the children in a family. It’s also a very costly way of solving the problem.”
District council officers are suggesting turning nine flats into temporary accommodation to take the total number across Stratford to 32. They say the extra homes would cost around £17,000 a year to run.
In the council’s proposed budget report it says: “Traditionally we have only used B&Bs in exceptional circumstances where all other options are unavailable. However, current pressures on the service and the lack of local alternatives has resulted in a growth in our reliance. We recognise this is a costly and undesirable form of accommodation.
“Expanding the number of supported temporary accommodation will be better value for money and enable improved outcomes for those being housed.”
The council is currently in discussions with providers and say the extra homes could be ready as soon as April.
But Lib Dems say building a hostel would be a viable alternative to slash the council’s need for B&B accommodation.
They argue it could house those in need of emergency accommodation and would also be cheaper in the long run.
Coun Peter Moorse told the Observer: “As the number of households needing B&B accommodation has risen there is extra money in next year’s budget. A hostel would be more dignified and save a lot of money.”
Councillors will discuss plans at a Cabinet meeting on Monday (February 13).