Convicts’ council houses should be saved for them until they get out of prison in the latest strategy suggested to tackle homelessness in Brighton and Hove.
The city council has been asked to consider keeping people’s tenancies open for them if they are sentenced to jail.
Councillors Andrew Wealls, Alan Robins and Ollie Sykes, came up with 18 recommendations to try to tackle the huge problem of homelessness in the city.
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They concluded that “the council should explore what can be done to maintain people’s tenancies should they be imprisoned”.
After speaking to organisations who deal with homelessness in the city and taking part in the annual homeless count councillors learned ex-cons, particularly leaving Lewes prison, often come to Brighton and Hove.
But they feared providing too many services to help offenders leaving jail could encourage ex-cons to see the city as a “preferred destination”.
The recommendation that those living in the city should be allowed to keep their tenancies while they are behind bars is likely to enrage the thousands of people on housing waiting list – as well taxpayers who would be forced to fund such a move.
In their report they said: “Many rough sleepers have a significant criminal history, including imprisonment.
“Being imprisoned is itself likely to cause or contribute to homelessness: people who are in prison may be at risk of losing tenancies, or of being estranged from their families or homes.
“This is a particular issue given the proximity of Lewes prison. People released from Lewes may gravitate towards Brighton and Hove on release, whether or not they have a local connection and some of these people may end up rough sleeping.
“Clearly rough sleeping is unlikely to provide a stable background to enable ex-offenders to reintegrate successfully into society.
“It seems obvious therefore that every step should be taken to ensure that people leaving prison do not end up on the streets. However things are not necessarily this simple.”
The panel’s other 17 recommendations include creating better provisions for homeless LGBT people and victims of domestic violence.