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Sussex homes crisis with evictions set to rise
More than ten people a day are facing eviction from their homes in Sussex – with experts warning the rate is set to rise.
Official figures show 3,800 homeowners in the county were taken to court in the past 12 months because they had fallen behind on their mortgage repayments.
In Brighton and Hove, the figure reaches nearly one home for every street.
While the figure across Sussex has fallen slightly since last year, from 4,000, the total in Brighton and Hove is up.
With more people experiencing financial difficulties and national changes to the welfare system, experts are warning the numbers will remain high in the coming months and could rise.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of national housing charity Shelter, said: “It’s truly shocking how many people in the South East are living with the threat of becoming homeless.
“In some areas, the risk of being evicted or repossessed is so high that one home in every street could be affected.
"This is a stark reminder that homelessness can happen to anyone – all it takes is one event such as a redundancy or relationship break up, and whole families are at risk of losing their home.”
Brighton and Hove had the highest number in the county with 860 homes repossessed over a 12 month period – a rate of 1 for every 144 households.
This was an increase on 840 repossession orders last year.
Hastings had the highest rate in Sussex during the past 12 months with 1 in 91 households facing legal action.
This put it among the top 20% for repossessions.
Joanna Wilson, manager of Brighton Housing Trust’s (BHT) Hastings advice service, predicted the demand for its service will only increase.
She added: “As a service we would urge people to seek advice as early as possi- ble so that we can work at preventing homelessness and reduce the enormous stress and worry that families go through when they are faced with the struggles of trying to keep their home.
“If there is one message I could get across to people it would be that it is never too late to seek advice.”
Mrs Wilson said it was not just the poorest in society who were suffering.
Among those to have sought help recently was a self- employed builder who, due to falling amounts of business and customers not paying bills could not pay his mortgage.
After working out repayment costs with BHT, his home was saved at the repossession order hearing.
Hove MP Mike Weatherley said: “There is a human story behind every case and we must not forget the distress which a repossession brings.
“The overall figures show an improvement on last year though which is certainly encouraging.”