COUNTY NEWS: Shock figures show scores at risk of losing their homes

ALARMING new figures have revealed that almost 1,000 people in the south east were at risk of losing their home every week over the past year.

Saturday, 6th June 2015, 9:30 am
Scores of people are at risk of being made homeless, a study has shown.

In an analysis of statistics from the Ministry of Justice, leading housing charity, Shelter identified how many people are at risk of eviction and repossession as well as the ‘home threat hotspots’ across the south east where people are most likely to face the risk of losing their home.

Hastings was identified as the fourth worst area in the region, with one in every 95 homes under threat of eviction or repossession.

It was topped only by slough topped (one in 58), Gravesham (one in 79) and Medway (one in 89).

Neighbouring Eastbourne was ranked 20th, with one in 149 households at risk.

Charity workers at Shelter have been staggered by the sheer volume of calls and people visiting its website looking for help.

Alison Mohammed, Shelter’s director of services, said: “These staggering figures show just how many people are fighting to keep their families in their homes, after dealing with the double blow of welfare cuts and a drastic shortage of affordable housing.

“We’re doing everything we can to give advice and support to anyone who faces losing the roof over their heads, but the government must also play its part by putting a stop to further cuts to the safety net which helps ordinary families stay in their homes.”

Bill Murdoch was one of those who had been helped by the charity.

The 52-year-old lost his job as a bus driver after losing the sight in one eye last year.

Bills soon started to rack up and he missed two payments on a loan secured against his home.

He said: “The bills started to mount up and, even though we’d had been making the payments without fail for years, the loan company told us they were going to take away our home.

“Coming on top of losing my sight and my job, stressed doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when our home was under threat. I have never been more terrified than I was on the day the court order came.

“The only thing that gave me hope was when I contacted Shelter who helped us through the court process. If it wasn’t for that, we’d have lost everything.”

Nadeem Khan, helpline adviser for the organisation, said this was not uncommon.

“We’re hearing from thousands of people who have suffered in silence while they struggle to keep up with their rent or mortgage, and come to us in desperation when the court papers finally land on their doormat.

“It’s natural to feel helpless in the face of mounting bills, but getting expert advice as soon as you start having trouble with housing payments can really help you see the light at the end of the tunnel, and keep the threat of losing your home at bay.”

Shelter helps 4million people a year fight bad housing and homelessness through its online, helpline and face to face services. For free, expert advice from Shelter see here or call the helpline on 0808 800 4444.

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