A family a day fear losing home

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

ONE terrified family each day seeks desperate debt help over fear of losing their home.

And the dire situation is being predicted to get even worse as the financial pinch continues.

The economic downturn has seen a 200 per cent rise in people from Hartlepool contacting their local housing office struggling to pay to keep a roof over their heads.

Hartlepool Borough Council has seen a three-fold rise in the number of people struggling to pay their mortgage or rent accessing its housing advice service.

Town MP Iain Wright said he has seen rising numbers of cases of people attending his surgeries with similar money worries, but he is predicting to could get even worse.

People who find themselves in financial trouble are being urged to get help, while council chiefs say they have helped prevent hundreds of people from becoming homeless.

The number of people fearing they could lose their homes as they are struggling to pay their mortgage or rent in the last three years rose sharply from 111 in 2008/09, up to 151 in 2009/10 and 331 in 2010/11.

Alastair Simpson, a tenancy relations officer at the council, said: “The mortgage problems are getting worse, but there are ways we can help.

“It is about not burying your head in the sand and being proactive. The longer you leave it, the more your options diminish. You have to do something about it.”

Housing chiefs say problems with paying rent and mortgages can arise from a range of life-changing circumstances including loss of employment and relationship breakdowns.

People struggling to pay their mortgage are advised to act as soon as they realise their is a problem and they should contact their lender to see if they can take a payment holiday or change to an interest only mortgage.

Mr Wright added: “It has certainly risen in the last two to three years and I predict it will rise some more.

“The main thing I would say is don’t put your head in the sand and think it will go away.

“From my time as Housing Minister, I know it costs thousands of pounds for a lender to repossess a house so it is not in the bank or building society’s interest to repossess.

“So if people talk to them early, there could be a solution. But if they aren’t listening, then that’s certainly something that I would like to hear about and if this is the case I want people to contact me.”

In 2008/09 the service prevented 341 households from becoming homeless, followed by 353 in the following year and 371 in the last financial year.

They helped find homes in 28 cases where people were found to be homeless and the council has a statutory duty to help them find somewhere to live.

The following year saw 18 cases and the last financial year there was 15.

Anyone wanting help can contact the council on (01429) 284038 or email: housingadviceteam@hartlepool.gov.uk

Mr Simpson said people can also get advice from a range of other organisations including the West View Resource Centre by contacting (01429) 271275, Hartlepool Citizen Advice Bureau on (01429) 273223, or solicitors can also offer housing advice.

People can contact Mr Wright at the constituency office in South Road, Hartlepool, on (01429) 224403.