THOUSANDS of households across the North East spent last winter homeless or at risk of homelessness, the Northern Echo can reveal.

New figures show nearly 4,000 families or individuals were without a stable roof over their heads between October and December.

During the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, a nationwide effort to house as many people as possible during national lockdowns contributed to homeless levels falling across the region.

But Echo analysis of the latest Government figures suggests that homelessness in the North East has risen and has almost reached pre-pandemic levels.

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In just three months – between last October and the end of December – councils across the region assessed 3,880 households and found more than 1,600 were homeless and another 2,140 at imminent risk of losing their home.

That is 10 per cent higher than recorded in 2020 and just 50 fewer than in 2019.

There were also more than 600 households living in temporary accommodation at the end of December.

Middlesbrough woman Susan Gill, who runs a café and welfare centre used by homeless people, is calling on authorities to work together to tackle the issue.

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Underlying the potentially grave impact of homelessness, she said “six or seven” homeless people known to her had died in recent weeks.

Ms Gill said not enough was being done to help those who do find themselves without a home and said more support was needed.

She said: “There needs to be more done, especially around mental health support.

“We’re a charity and our responsibilities seem to grow more and more each year.

“The Government stepped in during the first lockdown to house people but it shouldn’t really have taken a pandemic to do that.”

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The households found to be homeless or at risk of homelessness in the North East are among almost 65,000 across England.

A spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said there was more still to do to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

He added: “Councils across the country are continuing efforts to support rough sleepers into permanent homes.”


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