'Second wave' of homelessness expected in East Devon after end of eviction ban

East Devon District Council says current housing staff are unable to keep up with cases and some even having to take time off because of stress. Credit: ITV News

Extra staff are being recruited by East Devon District Council (EDDC) to help deal with rising homeless numbers caused by the end of the Government’s eviction ban.

The council’s cabinet has agreed to hire two extra housing officers for the next year to address a ‘second wave’ of homelessness which they say has been caused by the pandemic and is now being amplified by evictions resuming.

EDDC says this has fuelled the problem in the area, with current housing staff unable to keep up with cases and some even having to take time off because of stress.

Homelessness was already rising because of the pandemic, as was domestic violence and rent costs.

It is claimed that this is not helped by Airbnb and growth in the number of holiday homes.

Homelessness includes those in temporary shelter without permanent accommodation, those living in inadequate or unfit housing such as campsites, and those living in insecure housing.

It can also include people with insecure tenancies or those facing eviction, domestic violence, or those forced to sofa surf.

At the start of last month, there were more than 250 open homelessness cases, which is expected to rise as evictions by private landlords soar. 

It is hoped the two extra housing officers, which are expected to cost £67,500 over the next year, will help the council keep up with the rising need for help.

Speaking at cabinet, Councillor Jack Rowland said: “It’s sad that we’re in a position that we have to consider this but the staff have been under such pressure and that pressure isn’t going to go away. 

Meanwhile, Councillor Steve Gazzard said he’d already seen an increase in people sleeping in shop doorways in Exmouth. But Councillor Megan Armstrong vowed that "we will keep trying as best we can.”

Credit: Joe Ives, Local Democracy Reporting Service