Threat of homelessness increases in Bury St Edmunds

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The threat of homelessness is on the increase in St Edmundsbury.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council says in the past year it has seen more people than before coming to it with housing issues, and that the issues themselves are more complex.

“We are seeing more people in danger of becoming homeless, rather than people who need to move up from a two bedroom to a three bedroom house,” said a council spokeswoman.

The news comes as the council prepares to launch a joint public consultation with Forest Heath District Council later this year about its affordable housing planning guidance.

In St Edmundsbury there are currently 2,000 people on a housing needs register – changes to the way that figure is calculated means officers at the council are unable to give a direct comparative figure for the year before.

But a spokeswoman said: “There are more people who are approaching us now and they tend to be in greater need that previously.”

So far the council, which has a statutory duty to prevent homelessness, has not had to rehouse people out of the area.

The council is looking at not only at how it prevents homelessness, but also how it brings empty homes back into use, and whether people are in housing which is appropriate to their need.

It also needs to provide more supported housing for the elderly and more single bed homes – both of which are are in increasing demand.

The borough council already has a policy which says that 30 per cent of new developments of ten or more homes must be for affordable housing.

“We have 2000 people on the housing needs register, but this does not mean that we need to build 2000 new homes.

“We also have to make best use of the housing already available, including homes in the private rented sector,” the spokeswoman said.

“Building affordable housing depends on finding appropriate sites and putting together a developer, housing provider and funding to bring the project forward, which St Edmundsbury plays a key role in.”