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Domestic abuse leading to rise in RBWM housing applications, meeting hears

The Windsor and Maidenhead council's housing service is seeing a ‘continued increase’ in applications from people approaching as homeless or at risk of homelessness, a meeting heard this week.

Councillors on the health and wellbeing board also learned that domestic abuse is the current main driver of referrals to the Windsor and Maidenhead housing team.

Tracey Hendren, head of housing at the Royal Borough, said that an average of between eight and 12 people a month were approaching the housing service due to domestic abuse.

Other common reasons included losing accommodation in the private rented sector, and eviction through family and friends, Tuesday’s meeting heard.

At this time, the council is dealing with 300 live, ongoing applications, as well as another 150 ‘main duty’ cases, where people are in temporary accommodation.

There are also another 32 people on the borough’s ‘Rough Sleeper Pathway’, which is a three-stage process helping to get homeless people back in suitable living.

“The service is seeing a continued increase in applications approaching as homeless or threatened with homelessness, and has been doing so since the beginning of the pandemic,” Ms Hendren said.

She added that the housing team was expecting another steady rise in referrals in the near future, when the existing freeze on eviction from the private rented sector ends.

“At the moment we are in a position where we expect homelessness to continue to rise because all those households that would have been applying to us that are still in that accommodation, once that freeze lifts we will have these ongoing cases, plus the backlog,” Ms Hendren added.

Later in the meeting, she said that a total of 225 people were in temporary accommodation right now, with the council’s housing team also securing another 10-bed unit in the borough which will be used for this purpose.

Meeting chairman Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill) said that the fact that more people are seeking help from the council’s housing team because of domestic abuse ‘emphatically emphasises the importance of the issue’.

“Those numbers really do illuminate the challenge, which we know has increased during the pandemic,” the lead member for health said.

“I think that just emphatically emphasises the importance of the issue relating to domestic abuse and how critical it is that the work of DASH [domestic abuse charity] continues, but actually all of us see it as our responsibility to ensure that the signs can be spotted.”

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