Pathfinder blamed for homeless hike

Government proposals to regenerate rundown communities in the north are blamed for rising levels of homelessness in the region in a report published this week.

The study by housing charity Shelter warns that the ODPM's plans for housing market renewal pathfinders are pricing local people out of the market. It suggests that this may "cause a severe lack of affordability" in these areas that could push thousands of local families out of buying or privately renting a home.

The report notes that homelessness has increased twice as fast in the north as it has in the south over the past six years. Shelter director Adam Sampson said: "Further suffering for families at the sharp end of this crisis must be prevented."

But an ODPM spokeswoman argued that affordability is not the main cause of homelessness in low-demand areas. "Social exclusion is a major cause and the pathfinder scheme will help to tackle this by seeking to reverse deprivation and working with other agencies to increase access to jobs," she said.

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