Homelessness issue in Rugby laid bare in report

New statistics released by a charity show that Rugby has the fifth-highest number of homeless people in the entire West Midlands.

Thursday, 8th December 2016, 7:14 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:17 pm
Homelessness: editorial image

Homelessness charity Shelter published a report last Thursday showing what it called the ‘shocking true scale’ of homelessness in the area.

It estimates that 16,100 people are now homeless in the West Midlands, with 210 of those in Rugby – or one in every 515 people in the borough.

Rugby ranks fifth-highest in the table of 20 regional local authority areas.

But Rugby’s ranking in the regional data comes as no surprise to town homelessness charity Hope 4 Rugby, which runs the Hope Centre shelter.

Its chairman Michael Bochenski told the Advertiser: “It doesn’t surprise me. We have seen a significant increase in the number of referrals and people walking through the door of the Hope Centre this autumn.”

He believes one of the factors is that Rugby is home to a number of warehouse and logistics jobs – or “so-called unskilled jobs” – and that these workers can then fall on hard times and find it difficult to find a home.

“We can all be just one crisis away from being homeless,” said Mr Bochenski. “One of the things that always impresses upon me and saddens me when speaking to people at the centre is that they could easily be your brother, your father, your sister. Sometimes they are struggling to cope with life and take to drink, and then the drink takes them.”

Shelter obtained the figures by analysing a combination of the most up-to-date government statistics, Freedom of Information requests, and other published homelessness data.

The charity’s regional hub manager Vicky Hines said: “Thousands of people in the area will face the trauma of waking up homeless this Christmas.

“Decades in the making, this is the tragic result of a nation struggling under the weight of sky-high rents, a lack of affordable homes, and cuts to welfare support.”

Rugby Borough Council has set up a scrutiny sub-committee to look into homelessness.

Cllr Leigh Hunt, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for communities and homes, said: “Homelessness remains a key priority for the council and we work with a number of partners, including Rugby Homelessness Forum and the Citizens Advice Bureau, to support the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.

“In addition to fulfilling our statutory duties to the homeless, the council has taken a proactive approach to helping residents at risk of homelessness stay in their home, whether council-owned or private.

“We offer information and advice on a range of housing-related issues, including debt management and accessing employment, and also help residents explore all the housing options available in the private sector.”