Swansea Council’s Housing Options has teamed up with the Citizens Advice Bureau, Shelter Cymru, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire Councils to encourage households at risk of homelessness to get advice now.
A campaign using radio advertising, city centre advertising facilities, leaflets and other media is under way.
The move comes amid fears of a rise in potentially homeless households.
Recession also has a knock on affect on other causes of homelessness such as relationship breakdown, domestic abuse, and substance misuse.
Swansea Council along with neighbouring authorities have not seen a sharp increase in the levels of homelessness from former homeowners so far.
However it is believed this is because lenders haven’t been taking action due to low interest rates and low house prices meaning little equity in many circumstances. This situation is now on the change.
Since October 1st lenders have to notify the local authority that they are taking action to claim possession of a home before a court will make an order against the owner.
Swansea Council has already started being contacted by some lenders and have taken proactive steps to contact the owner offering free advice to prevent future home loss.
Martin Whatty, Swansea Council’s Homelessness Strategy Coordinator, said: “We could be faced with a rush of potentially homeless households in the next few months unless we can get hold of those in trouble and offer good quality advice now.
“Not only could people be left homeless or in unsuitable accommodation but also left with long term debt after selling or losing their home due to negative equity.
“Advice agencies are usually only approached for help when problems escalate into a crisis.
“Too many homeowners feel they can negotiate their way out of a problem without professional help which may result in even more debt.
“The key is getting help at the earliest possible opportunity.
“If we are to be really effective and make a difference, then we need to be getting hold of households as soon as a financial problem arises.”
“Support for families going through difficult times can also be just as important as tangible help in keeping a home.”
Services available include specialist money advice teams who can negotiate with lenders, represent in court, and even in some circumstances arrange for the purchase and rent back of the home through a housing association.
Swansea Council Cabinet member for Housing Councillor Peter May said: “We hope that the partnership approach to homelessness prevention in the city will help minimise the effects of the economic downturn.
“Shelter and Citizens Advice Bureau have a long standing partnership with the Council and a commitment to preventing homelessness and improving the housing circumstances of those in need of help.
“Working with them and our neighbouring local authorities, our message is don’t let your housing problems get out of hand.
“If you get in touch soon enough there is effective help for either finding somewhere to live or if possible staying in your home.”
Anyone experiencing housing difficulties and would like free advice on how we may be able to help should contact Swansea Housing Options on 01792 533100, log on to www.swansea.gov.uk or www.tiny.cc/housinghelp