‘Homelessness will only get worse,’ warns DENS chief

From left, Jim Barker clerk of works DBC, David Barratt DBC,Councillor Margaret Griffiths, Sarah Pickering housing developmnet association,'Paul Latimer,Anthony Culley and Andrew Liversidge, all of DENS, during the build of new hostel The Elms in Redbourn Road, Hemel Hempstead, last year
From left, Jim Barker clerk of works DBC, David Barratt DBC,Councillor Margaret Griffiths, Sarah Pickering housing developmnet association,'Paul Latimer,Anthony Culley and Andrew Liversidge, all of DENS, during the build of new hostel The Elms in Redbourn Road, Hemel Hempstead, last year
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Homelessness will continue to rise across Dacorum over the next five years, according to the boss of a charity which helps the borough’s homeless.

Andrew Liversidge is chief executive of DENS, which has been working to tackle homelessness and related issues in Dacorum since 2003.

And he said that while the problem of homeless has risen significantly in recent years, it will continue to do so for several years to come.

Mr Liversidge told the Gazette: “We had five years of the coalition government and research shows that homelessness has gone up by 33 per cent in that time.

“We now have another five years ahead of us with a government that’s committed to getting down the national debt and cutting the benefits bill. And one of the groups who will be most affected by that is the homeless population.

“Homeless people are hit both ways, because they’re having money – their benefits – taken from them, while the agencies and charities which help them are also having funding cut or receiving less in donations.”

One of the most significant moments in DENS’ history came last year when it was given the green light to run a 41-bed shelter for the homeless which could eradicate rough sleeping in Dacorum.

The charity already ran a variety of projects, including a day centre, Rent Aid and foodbank.

But it was hoped that the futuristic-looking build on Hemel’s Redbourn Road would help to eradicate rough sleeping locally.

Mr Liversidge said that he supported the government’s aim of reducing families being dependent upon benefits for multiple generations.

But he added that in the current climate the issue was only going to get worse in the short-term.

He said: “I agree with the approach that people should be encouraged to change their lifestyles if several generation have been living on benefits.

“But it’s hard out there - it’s hard, hard, hard - and while the government wants to take the carrot and stick approach they’re actually taking away the carrot and only using the stick.”

> Next week’s Gazette will take a look at the work behind the scene of DENS. Make sure you get a copy of the October 21 edition.