More homeless seek help in Devon says church charity

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A Devon housing charity has reported a big rise in demand from homeless people in the past year.

The Churches Housing Action Team (Chat) in Tiverton said it saw about 20 people a month for housing advice in 2010/11 but that had risen to 35 a month in 2011/12.

The charity said most of the demand was from people coming off the street, asking for a sleeping bag or a tent.

The charity said it provided food and bedding to 393 people in 2011.

Sarah Neyt, the charity's financial development officer, said: "The main part of the increase is people coming off the street with nowhere to stay.

"They literally have nowhere to sleep. They come in and ask for food because they have not got the money to buy it."

She said that the problem was likely to get worse because of new restrictions on housing benefits and a lack of rented accommodation.

"Times are really hard for everybody and there are a lot of people who have to make choices between paying rent and buying food.

"People are struggling from all angles."

The National Housing Federation in 2011 reported that in the South Hams of Devon, average house prices were £323,360, or 16.7 times the average income and in north Devon the average price of £225,327, was 14.8 times the average income.

It also reported a 10% rise in the number households accepted as homeless in the South West in 2010/11 to more than 3,200 from the previous year.

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