Council focusing on preventing homelessness amid sharp rise

Crawley Borough Council cabinet member for housing Richard Burrett
Crawley Borough Council cabinet member for housing Richard Burrett

The number of homeless families with children in Crawley has more than doubled in the past three years.

Figures released by Crawley Borough Council show that in 2010 there were 59 families with children accepted by the council as homeless.

The most up to date figures for last year, which exclude the last three months, show that has risen to 144.

In the same period, the number of households without children being accepted as homeless rose from 98 to 131.

The number of people in temporary accommodation also increased. Households without children went from 672 in 2010 to 910 in the first nine months of 2013.

Those with children increased from 540 to 705.

Michelle Turner and her one-year-old daughter Mikayla moved back to her hometown of Crawley after their landlord in Devon said they had to leave.

At first they moved in with family, but due to circumstances beyond their control, they had to look for somewhere else. They approached Crawley Borough Council for help, who provided temporary accommodation.

Michelle, 35, said: “They put us into a hostel in Horsham and then a day or two later they said we were intentionally homeless and they weren’t going to help.”

She was suddenly faced with the possibility of becoming homeless and feared she could lose Mikayla.

She asked the homelessness charity Shelter for advice, which approached the council and permanent accommodation was found.

Looking back on the whole experience she said: “A hostel is a hostel. You make the best of what you have got, but at nine weeks old. It’s not the place for a tiny baby.”

Cllr Richard Burrett, cabinet member for ousing at Crawley Borough Council, said: “Homelessness has been a growing issue in Crawley over the past few years, mainly due to the continuing effects of the recession. The council tries to prevent homelessness where possible by advising an individual or family of their housing options at an early stage and we have been working to increase these options in recent months.”

Labour’s shadow portfolio holder for housing Cllr Steve Joyce said: “This figures are a terrible indictment on this Tory-led governments economic policy. In order to survive, some Crawley people are driven to using pay day loan companies, racking up debt and credit with jobs on zero contracts and no guarantee work will be full time. The housing team at Crawley Borough are stretched beyond capacity and helping as many people as they can, but these figures show that the Tory-led government are letting local people suffer.”