Rising house prices blamed as Harrogate shamed as a homeless hotspot

Liz Hancock of the Harrogate Homeless Project.  (1510084AM5)
Liz Hancock of the Harrogate Homeless Project. (1510084AM5)
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Harrogate’s lack of affordable housing has been blamed after the district was shamed by Shelter as being one of North Yorkshire’s homeless hotspots.

The national homeless charity published official statistics, for the very first time, revealing that there are an estimated 139 homeless people living in the Harrogate district.

Only Richmondshire and Kingston upon Hull had worse levels of homelessness across Yorkshire and the Humber with one in 1139 people homeless in Harrogate.

Shelter compiled the local data by analysing up-to-date government statistics on the number of rough sleepers and those in temporary accommodation data to produce a “conservative” total.

While the government says it does not recognise the figures, Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has stressed that preventing homeless remains one of their key priorities.

An HBC spokesperson said: “There is no one single cause of homelessness. It is a combination of individual circumstances and a number of factors outside of the direct control of the council.

“This includes the slow recovery from the recession, the impact on the housing market, a lack of affordable housing and welfare reforms.”

In 2015, the council began its first house-building programme since the 1980s and is also aiming to increase the supply of affordable housing by purchasing homes.

The council’s housing options service also focuses on providing assistance to families threatened with homelessness as well as working with partners including the Harrogate Homeless Project.

The project focuses on working with street homelessness and ‘roofless’ and its chief executive Liz Hancock said she was not surprised by the recent figures.

She said: “We have seen our number of referrals to the No Second Night Out scheme steadily increasing over the last couple of years. We are getting around 200 referrals per year consistently.

“The affordable housing issue is contributing massively to that, particularly for our clients who are seeking one bed accommodation or even just a bedsit.

“It’s very much a landlords market at the moment with that they can get and the reluctance to accept people on benefits makes it even harder.”