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We are a cross-party, member-led network, providing a single voice for our member councils

‘People have nowhere to go’: ITV shows district’s homelessness prevention work

Published: 22 December 2023

Many of our thoughts this Christmas are with those who have no permanent, secure homes – and last night ITV showed the work of one district council trying to secure housing for vulnerable residents.

ITV’s Tonight programme visited North Devon Council, where homelessness has risen by a third in the past year and spending on temporary accommodation has doubled to £1.2m since 2019.

You can see the documentary by clicking here, with North Devon appearing after around 12 minutes, 30 seconds.

Many properties there have been converted to short-term lets, rents have rocketed and many private landlords have left the market, leaving little affordable accommodation available.

The documentary followed the work of housing team members working tirelessly in order to secure homes that people can afford to remain in long-term.

Aaron Streat, who leads North Devon’s homelessness and temporary accommodation service, said that with fewer affordable properties, “you get people stuck, they’ve got nowhere to go.”

“You can do everything you can to bring about a positive outcome as quickly as you can but you have to work within the constraints that you’ve got,” he added.

Mr Streat recounted how on a weekly basis staff encountered residents shouting or threatening self-harm, such was their level of desperation.

He also said how the council negotiated with landlords and social housing providers and had maintained a good working relationship with estate agents as part of its work to get residents into appropriate housing.

The council’s chief executive Ken Miles described homelessness’s impact on councils’ overall financial position as a “ticking timebomb”, adding: “You will shortly start seeing councils warning of their own impending bankruptcy because of temporary accommodation.

“I don’t think you can say it’s anything other than a crisis.”

Thank you to North Devon for working with DCN and ITV to share its experience and the dedication of its staff with a national audience.

DCN seeks to work with our member councils to bring the challenges they face and the opportunities they offer to a wider audience. If you are interested in featuring in DCN’s media work, please email nick.golding@local.gov.uk.

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