Published: 09:00, 17 July 2017
| Updated: 09:27, 17 July 2017
The number of rough sleepers in Dover district has trebled in two years.
Figures from the homelessness charity Porchlight show that there were 77 people on the streets from April 2016 to last March compared 24 two years before and 34 in 2015/16.
In this last year seven of the 77 were young people, aged 25 and under, while the figure for this group was six in 2015/16 and two in 2014/15.
It reflects a wider rise of 38% with 707 people listed as homeless in Kent outside Medway compared with 509 in 2015/16.
Porchlight believes that the increase is due to welfare cuts.
The charity’s chief executive Mike Barrett said: “This frightening increase in homelessness has been caused, I think, by two things – ferocious welfare cuts aimed at poor and vulnerable people and the irresponsible housing policies of successive governments over 30 years.
“It’s now commonplace to see people living and sleeping on the streets. It appears to have become an accepted part of the austerity measure.
“Under-35s are among the hardest hit. Under-25s have seen their jobseeker’s allowance frozen and 18 to 21-year-olds have lost the automatic entitlement to housing benefit.
“Many people who work rely on benefits, but these are being cut and they now face the humiliating and life threatening risk of homelessness.”
James Moorhouse, a member of Canterbury-based Porchlight’s rough sleeper team, said: “One person’s personal independence payments were stopped after they were judged to no longer need them. Their accommodation became unaffordable.
“Another had their benefits re-assessed and were moved to a lower rate, meaning that they struggled to survive and pay basic bills and rent top-up. They ended up sleeping rough – which is where we came into contact with them.”
Porchlight is now appealing for donations for the public to help in this crisis.
Log on to porchlight.org.uk for further details.
For 2016/17 the Dover, Deal and Sandwich area has the fifth worst figure for homelessness for the 12 Kent districts outside Medway.
The worst statistic is 106 for Maidstone and the best is just five for Sevenoaks.
Other parts of Kent has also seen rises for example the number of people living rough in Canterbury district has almost doubled in the last three years to 97 for 2016/17.
In Swale the figure leapt in 2016/17 to 23 compared with just six in 2015/16.
The figures for each year cover April 1 to March 31 for each year.
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