Plymouth rough sleeping 'getting worse'

People sleeping rough
Image caption George House said it was struggling to keep up with demand

More people are being forced to sleep rough in Plymouth, according to a homeless shelter.

George House, which offers housing for the city's most vulnerable people, said it was getting four referrals a day.

The shelter said it was struggling to keep up with demand, with 50 people already on its waiting list for housing.

The latest government figures estimate more than 100 people are currently living on the streets of Devon.

George House, which launched in August 2011, has 46 en-suite bedrooms, two of which have been designed to accommodate wheelchair users.

Tori Brown, who works at the shelter, said: "We're seeing an increase in young people being referred to our services.

"I think there's a lack of affordable housing and employment opportunities. We do tend to have people from other areas coming to Plymouth.

Outreach worker

"We have got a good drug and alcohol detox unit in the city so people do come down to access those services."

Government figures show across the wider South West region there are 340 people sleeping rough.

About 114 of those are in Devon, with most in Exeter and Plymouth and more than a dozen in north Devon.

North Devon District Council said it now employed a rough sleeper outreach worker.

A spokesman said: "We provide early morning outreach visits to any location in the district and have drop-in sessions at a local day facility for people who are homeless."

Nationally the government has given an extra £160m to be shared out among councils over the next two years to help get more people off the streets.

Housing minister Grant Shapps said: "The funding is for services that help people who are homeless or in danger of losing their home."

These include outreach services to help get rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation, and rent deposit schemes helping homeless people get accommodation in the private rental sector.

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