Homelessness "revolving door" concerns raised by city chiefs, with at least 1,774 potential cases logged in Sunderland since April

Unsustainable housing tenancies risk creating a “revolving door of homeless people” in Sunderland, city chiefs have warned.

According to the latest figures from Sunderland City Council (SCC), more than 1,774 cases of potential homelessness were recorded between April 2021 and January 2022.

Workers on the ground in Wearside claim families no longer being “willing or able to accommodate” people, domestic abuse and the end of relationships are among the three main causes of people finding themselves facing the streets.

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The top household types presenting as homeless include single males and single females, followed by female lone parent households with dependent children.

City Hall, Sunderland
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“In terms of stats, we had 1,506 people homeless or threatened with homelessness and the cases opened were 1,774,” said Katherine Corfield, housing strategy manager at Sunderland City Council.

“So some of those would have been general advice and assistance but people homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days would be the 1,500.”

Speaking to members of SCC’s Economic Prosperity Scrutiny Committee earlier this month (March 8), the housing boss described a trend for repeat applications as a “revolving door of homeless people”, which could be linked to unsustainable tenancies, heightened by a lack of support or rent arrears.

Over the period between April 2021 to January 2022, the council helped to “relieve” homelessness in 581 cases, including those presenting as street homeless, hospital discharges and prison releases.

There were also 250 cases where the city council prevented homelessness by supporting people to either remain in their own accommodation or move elsewhere.

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Cllr Usman Ali called the homelessness data “quite alarming” and asked for clarity on how the council was supporting vulnerable people.

Housing officers confirmed that direct rent payments to landlords can be requested in cases involving rent arrears.

However they added many people with mental health issues, drug or alcohol issues still had capacity to manage their own finances.

Graham Scanlon, SCC’s assistant director of housing, told councillors a range of “support mechanisms” were available with a focus on “getting the right solution for individuals”.

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He added additional funding had been secured from NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for targeted work on hostels in the city to “look at what we need to do to get the future service provision and response right”.

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