Seven-bed hostel opens in Hull's Beverley Road to cope with rising homelessness
A HOMELESS hostel was being officially opened in the city today as figures suggest a sharp increase in the number of rough sleepers in Hull.
The seven-bed hostel in Beverley Road is the latest addition to the 200 bed spaces being offered across the city by Doorstep.
Launched in 1985, the homeless charity initially provided accommodation for 16 to 25 year-olds but now accepts people of all ages.
Doorstep's project director Pete Drinkell said: "The fact we are still here after all these years and opening hostels like this shows homelessness is as much an issue today as it was when we started.
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"My concern is that when the welfare reforms kick in next year, things will get a lot worse. The changes to benefits and council tax will have an impact in a negative way on what people will be able to afford.
"My guess is it will take another year or so to see that translate through enforcement action being taken and people becoming homeless as a result and coming to us, but it will happen."
Made possible through a partnership between Doorstep and private sector landlord Unicom, the opening of the hostel has coincided with the results of the latest survey of rough sleepers in Hull.
An official count carried out in 2009 identified nine people sleeping rough on the city's streets.
However, the latest count, carried out earlier this year, identified 22.
The total was in addition to 18 emergency beds being accessed every night by the Hull Homeless and Rootless Project at its hostel in St Peter's Street.
That hostel – known as Dock House – was supposed to close when the purpose-built £5m Crossings complex was opened last year.
However, continued funding from Hull City Council has allowed it to remain open until next March.
Mr Drinkell said: "The increase in the number of rough sleepers doesn't surprise me, unfortunately.
"The need for accommodation has always been there but you do see highs and lows.
"At the moment, the demand is high and it could go even higher because of the state of the economy."
New figures produced by the city council show 161 people either stayed at Dock House or needed to be placed in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation in Hull between last December and March this year.
Almost one in three people who stayed in the shelter over the winter months had mental health or substance abuse problems. Thirty-seven per cent moved on to supported housing but less than half retained it.