'Get help' plea to debtors in Sandwell homeless drive
People who are struggling to pay rent and mortgages in the West Midlands are being urged to seek help early as part of a drive to tackle homelessness.
Sandwell Council's new "prevention of homelessness strategy" sets out how it aims to combat the problem.
Housing cabinet member Simon Hackett said they wanted to work with the voluntary sector to support people at risk of losing their homes.
The new campaign coincides with World Homeless Day.
About 1,400 families or individuals in the West Midlands are classified as homeless, according to the charity Shelter.'Struggling financially'
Kay Boycott, from Shelter, said the combination of rising living costs and people's incomes not going up meant increasing numbers of people were struggling to keep up with their housing costs.
She added: "If you are struggling to keep up with housing bills, it's crucial that you seek help early - every day Shelter helps people struggling financially to stay in their homes, for example by helping people negotiate with their mortgage provider, and avoid repossession."
Council chiefs in Sandwell urged anyone having difficulty paying their mortgage or rent to contact its special housing advice service, which offers financial advice and other support.
The Labour-run council said last year the service prevented residents from 776 households becoming homeless and supported people from a further 1,681 households to find new premises.
Mr Hackett said the council was also hoping to improve its support for young people and those suffering from domestic abuse.
World Homeless Day is an annual event which aims to draw attention to the problem and encourage communities to help those affected.