THE first residents of shipping containers being used for the homeless are pleased with the facilities but have concerns over rental and heating costs.
Those are the findings of an independent report commissioned to mark the first six months of the homeless housing project in Richardson’s Yard in Brighton.
The site’s landlord, Brighton Housing Trust, has said it has already been working with tenants to resolve some of the issues the new report has raised.
The satisfaction survey carried out by University of Sussex social geographer Juliet Amoruso reported that residents’ favourite aspects include having their own kitchen, front door and shower as well as toilet facilities.
Almost unanimously, residents agreed that the converted shipping containers were better or much better than where they lived before.
There were concerns however with about half of all residents complaining heating and rent was too expensive while three-quarters of residents said that rubbish and litter was a problem because of “unreliable collections” by Cityclean.
Almost four in ten said the expense may force them to live elsewhere.
A quarter said drug dealing was a problem but noisy neighbours and litter were bigger issues.
The report also stated there had been “very few” anti-social incidents with just one eviction notice served on a tenant with trouble-making visitors.
Police crime maps show that 16 crimes have been reported in the neighbourhood around Richardson’s Yard since the containers were brought in during October 2013 - compared to 31 in the same period before the project.
A total of thirty-six containers were brought in initially but plans for a further nine at the site for low-cost office space were approved earlier this month.
The report’s author has made eight recommendations for the trust.
One anonymous resident told the report’s author they are concerned about what would happen to them after they had to leave the containers after two years.
They said: “I cannot be homeless again or live in any more hostels.
“BHT or the council need to make sure they have something in place when the tenancy comes to an end as they will have 40 or more residents on their hands.”
Emma Parker, 45, who lives near to the site, told The Argus: “It’s a very virtuous idea but maybe rather naive to expect you can put large groups of adults in an unmanaged environment.
“I don’t feel any less safe, it’s not the most salubrious of areas anyway.
“You sometimes see them coming down from the building and getting into cars to buy drugs but no one I know has had an issue with them.”
Andy Winter, Brighton and Hove Housing Trust chief executive, defended the rents, saying they were among the lowest 30 per cent in the city.