SOARING housing costs are leaving more and more people at risk of homelessness.
More than 20 households a month across the borough face eviction or repossession as finances are stretched to breaking point, according to analysis of Ministry of Justice figures.
In the last 18 months 375 mortgage and landlord possession claims were issued in Redditch, the first stage of the process that can lead to someone losing their home.
The number of people seeking help from Redditch Borough Council due to difficulties with housing costs is also increasing. Since 2009/10 the authority has stopped 1,398 people from ending up on the streets. More than a third of those have been helped to remain in their own homes while alternative accommodation has been found for others.
Part of that has involved the use of the Government’s mortgage rescue scheme which has seen the council, either directly or in partnership with West Mercia Housing, buy properties of those at risk of repossession and then rent them back to the previous owner while retaining them as part of the authority’s housing stock.
According to the National Housing Federation’s latest home truths report the average house price in Redditch is now £167,526 which is eight times the average income. Renting is also increasingly becoming an issue with the average cost of letting a home predicted to hit £714 by 2020 up from £563 in 2013/14.
The organisation also warns more people will be reliant on benefits to afford their home in future with almost a fifth of housing benefit claimants in the borough now in work.
The Government introduced its Help to Buy Scheme to help ease the cost of buying a home for those with only a five per cent deposit. So far more than £1.5million worth of loans have been handed out to Redditch residents, helping to buy 38 properties.
But Gemma Duggan, external affairs manager for the West Midlands at the National Housing Federation, said the answer was to build more homes in the right places at the right prices.
“The housing crisis in the region has been more than a generation in the making so short term initiatives aren’t going to fix it for this generation. We are calling on the next Government to commit to ending the housing crisis within a generation by publishing a long-term plan for housing within a year of coming into power.”
Anyone worried about the threat of repossession should contact the council’s housing options team on 01527 764252.