HOMELESSNESS in Croydon has reached an eight year high according to newly released statistics. Some 943 families were declared homeless during the last financial year, the highest figure since 2004/05. Homelessness increased 6.36 per cent last year and has risen 177.3 per cent in little under a decade. Nearly 200 families are living in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation. One in four has been placed there longer than the legal limit of six weeks. Croydon Council has previously predicted the borough's housing "crisis" would peak at 1,030 households being made homeless by 2014/15. Its estimate of 897 acceptances in 2012/13 fell 9 per cent short of the government statistics published yesterday (Thursday). Only Waltham Forest (1,045) has more homeless families in London than Croydon. Some progress appears to have been made in reducing the number of families in shared B&Bs, which dropped from 214 in March 2012 to 189 at the same point this year. However, the number of households in all forms of temporary housing and the total amount of homeless decisions, including those rejected because they were deemed to be intentionally destitute, has hit a seven year high. Across London homelessness increased 16 per cent in the last year with charity Crisis calling on the government to build more affordable houses. Figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that 14,812 households were accepted as homeless by councils in 2012/13. Croydon families make up 15.7 per cent of London's homeless families. There are around 40,230 households in temporary accommodation in the capital, an increase of 9.5 per cent, including 2,290 families living in B&Bs. Private tenancies coming to an end is one of the biggest causes of homelessness in London, with a 75 per cent increase in this factor last year. Homelessness in Croydon has increase every year since 2005. In January Jon Rouse, then council chief executive, admitted to the Advertiser that Croydon faced a housing crisis which would "get worse before it got better". He added that the benefits cap, introduced in April, would affect 800 families and increase homelessness. In response the council launched a housing task force, focused on reducing the number of households in B&Bs for more than six weeks. It also plans to build 42 new homes, convert redundant council buildings, such as former children's homes, into flats and bring empty properties back into use. In total 2,879 households declared themselves homeless to Croydon Council last year, of which 186 were in priority need but were not housed because their situation was deemed "intentional". Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, called for more investment in building new homes. "This rising tide of homelessness is a direct result of cuts to housing benefit at a time when there is chronic lack of affordable housing and rents are rising, nowhere more so than London. "Ministers can and must do more," she said. "Their immediate priorities should be to use the spending review to rein in the destructive welfare cuts they have made and focus on building the genuinely more affordable homes Britain needs. "With more cuts to housing benefit kicking in, we can sadly only expect things to get worse."
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