THOUSANDS of families across Wearside could face the threat of eviction from their homes after Government cuts in welfare.
The reduction in housing benefit, which will start to have an affect this month, could see hundreds of houses become unaffordable for the poorest people living in the region.
A new report states in Sunderland there is now only half the number of houses available, 4,070, to the total number of people looking for somewhere to live, 7,970.
This means people could be faced with the choice of borrowing more to make sure they can pay the bills or cutting back on other essentials.
The report, from the Chartered Institute of Housing, estimates that 800,000 homes will become off limits across the country.
Kay Boycott, director of campaigns, policy and communications at homeless charity Shelter, said: “Up to a million people who rely on housing support to keep a roof over their head began the new year with a huge worry hanging over them about how they are going to stay in their homes.
“Shelter analysis of government figures shows that a family in Sunderland living in a two-bedroom home will see an estimated average loss of £43 a month as the changes come into force.
“Across the country, as many as 130,000 households will be evicted or forced to move, pushing carers, pensioners and people with disabilities on low incomes out of their homes and away from their communities.
“Local councils need to do everything they can to identify those at risk of homelessness and provide them with advice and support, and anyone who is concerned about their housing situation can also seek advice from organisations like Shelter.”
The report concluded that for the first time nationally more people on benefits will now be chasing homes than the market currently is able to provide.
Benefit claimants also face competition from other people seeking to find cheap housing, such as students in university towns and cities.
Sunderland City Council declined to comment.