HUNDREDS of families face losing their homes as Hartlepool has been highlighted as a repossession hot spot.
The town is among the worst areas nationwide for the level of possession orders being dealt with by the courts that could lead to families losing their homes.
In Hartlepool in the last 12 months, there have been 140 mortgage possession orders granted against homeowners and 175 landlord possession orders, which accounts for almost an average of one a day.
The town is fifth highest in the North-East for the level of mortgage possession orders and 36th nationwide out of 324 local authorities.
Stockton, which includes Billingham and Wolviston is top regionally and 17th nationwide, while County Durham, which includes Peterlee and east Durham, is third regionally and 24th nationally.
They are among 65 local authority areas nationwide that have been highlighted as repossession hot spots by the homeless charity Shelter, with the North-East highlighted as the worst region.
Council chiefs are urging people to get help, but they predict that the situation could get worse before it gets better.
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “With the country in the state it is in at the minute, having been lending money to people who can’t afford to pay it back, this is a natural consequence.
“I would expect it to continue to bite for the next 12 to 18 months until we see the full extent of the impact of this government.
“The council has been gearing up for this and financial advice and help is available.
“Financial difficulty is sometimes seen as a bit of a taboo subject, but we are urging people to come forward and seek help.”
For every 1,000 homeowners in the town, 4.39 were dealt mortgage possession orders in the last year and another 4.49 were handed landlord possession orders.
Hartlepool, Stockton and County Durham were named as repossession hot spots along with Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Gateshead, Darlington and South Tyneside.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “This research paints a frightening picture of repossession hot spots in the North-East where homeowners are literally on the brink of losing the roof above their head.”
People seeking help can contact Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau, in Park Road on (01429) 273223 or West View Advice and Resource Centre, in the town’s Miers Avenue on (01429) 271275.
Hartlepool Borough Council can be contacted on (01429) 860077.
Alternatively call Shelter’s free hotline (0808) 800 4444 or visit www.shelter.org.uk