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WESTMINSTER 'HOMELESSNESS CAPITAL OF BRITAIN'

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Westminster LBC was yesterday identified by Shelter, the charity which campaigns on behalf of homeless people, as t...
Westminster LBC was yesterday identified by Shelter, the charity which campaigns on behalf of homeless people, as the homelessness capital of Britain.

The Times (p13) reports that more people called Shelter's new telephone helpline from Westminster than from any other local authority area in the country.

In its first six months of operation, Shelterline received nearly 40,000 calls, more than 3,000 from the Westminster area.

The report said that nearly three quarters of all calls from London were from people with nowhere to sleep that night or who were just about to become homeless.

'This highlights the housing crisis in London where by mid-morning there are few hostel beds available and where there is a massive shortage of homes available for people living on low incomes,' the report said.

The most frequently quoted problems of callers to the service were rent and mortgage arrears, harassment and illegal eviction, damp and disrepair and domestic violence.

Chris Holmes, director of Shelter, said he hoped that publication of the report would encourage more people threatened with homlessness to call the helpline earlier.

'What emerges is a depressing picture of people facing homelessnesss and inadequate housing. While we were encouraged that many people called in time to be able to prevent a crisis, far too many others were sleeping on the streets or had already lost their home,' he said.

The freephone number for Shelterline is 0808 800 4444.

* see LGCnet 29/7/99 'SHELTERLINE SIX MONTHS ON ONE IN TWO CALLS FROM PEOPLE WITHOUT A BED FOR NIGHT'

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