The ArgusCity's homeless crisis is getting worse (From The Argus)

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City's homeless crisis is getting worse

The Argus: City's homeless crisis is getting worse City's homeless crisis is getting worse

Figures seen by The Argus have revealed the growing problem of homelessness in Brighton and Hove.

Reporter Michael Davies took a closer look at the issue...

Housing boss Andy Winter recently warned that tents on Brighton’s seafront are a visual reminder the city’s growing homelessness problem.

The Brighton Housing Trust chief executive was unsurprised when people pitched up on Max Miller Walk above Madeira Drive – adding in the last year that homelessness has got “much, much worse”.

Now figures seen by The Argus show that Brighton and Hove City Council spent nearly £7 million more tackling the problem last year, compared to 2011.

In 2013/14 the authority spent £20,379,324 on services which deal with homelessness, including £6,227,572 towards people’s rent payments.

In comparison in 2011 the council spent more than £13 million on homelessness services, with more than £4 million of that helping people to pay their rents.

Council figures show homelessness in the city has increased 35 per cent in the last two years, with many people evicted by family or friends (37 per cent) or losing their private rented housing (33 per cent).

Nearly two thirds of all homeless cases dealt with by the council involve families either with children or a pregnant family member.

Since 2010 the number of households being placed in temporary accommodation has increased four-fold from 316 to nearly 1,200 this year.

A housing assessment carried out by the council into affordable housing need found that 88,000 households in Brighton and Hove – 72 per cent of all families – cannot afford market housing prices without having to spend exceedingly high levels of their income or relying on subsidies.

National homelessness charity Shelter said rising costs of housing were also a major factor when it came to tackling homelessness and identified Brighton and Hove as one of the places most likely to suffer from a lack of affordable housing.

Its figures show that average wages for the city are £28,240 a year and a family would need an income of at least £42,000 to afford housing.

The charity said the problem is not isolated to Brighton and Hove.

It said: “Worryingly, there is not a single area in the whole country where wage and house price inflation have remained aligned.

“The impact of the housing shortage has been widespread, with the latest census showing a drop in home ownership in England for the first time since records began.”

The charity’s chief executive Campbell Robb said he was seeing rises in the number of families in temporary accommodation for longer periods as councils struggled to house them.

He said: “Behind these figures are homeless families trapped in temporary accommodation for months or sometimes years, with no chance to put down roots or bring up their children in a stable home.

“More and more of us are finding out that it just takes one thing like a cut in hours or sudden illness to tip the spiral that ends in homelessness. It’s a sadly predictable result of soaring rents, the rising cost of living and continued cuts to housing benefit.

“Our welfare system must be fair, but these figures show that cuts to our housing safety net are simply a false economy, leaving more families stuck in emergency accommodation like bed and breakfasts, while the cost to the public purse soars.

“The only way to bring down these costs is to protect the safety net that stops more of us spiralling down into homelessness and to build the affordable homes we desperately need.”

Opposition councillors in Brighton and Hove said the rising figures showed a perfect storm of a severe housing crisis coupled with welfare reforms that were putting extra pressure on family finances.

Councillor Chaun Wilson, Labour spokesperson for housing, said: “These figures clearly show the growing costs and long term impact the housing crisis is having.

“Exacerbated by the welfare reforms introduced by the Conservative led Coalition Government, the last three years have seen homelessness increase significantly in the city, and places the local authority under even greater pressure to meet the housing needs of residents.

“With the largest private rented sector outside of London, it is no surprise that we increasingly look to private landlords to access accommodation for those in need and vital that we look to ensure that in future private tenants are offered greater stability, security and standards than at present.”

Fellow Labour councillor Emma Daniel, who has been focusing on the issue of homelessness in the city, said: “There is also a very real human cost here.

“I spoke to a rough sleeper with treatable leg ulcers who was unable to receive the simple treatment from a hospital because he has no accommodation to return to afterwards. He risks losing his leg if the treatment is delayed.

“Cases such as this underline why we as a city need to get to grips with ending homelessness.”

A council report on the city’s housing needs showed that Brighton and Hove has a population of 273,369 residents living in 121,540 homes, making the city the sixth most densely populated area in the South East.

It also highlighted areas of overcrowding in some parts of the city, particularly in the private rented sector.

The report also found that Brighton and Hove has one of the highest average house prices outside London and is one of the top 10 most expensive places in the country to buy a house, with rents far above the rates of Housing Benefit Allowance.

Council officers found there has also been an increase in the number of households accepted as homeless and in priority need who needed to be put in temporary accommodation.

Conservative spokesman for housing on Brighton and Hove City Council Garry Peltzer Dunn said a housing shortage was one of the main reasons for the rise in homelessness.

He said: “The fundamental problem in Brighton and Hove is a shortage of housing which is driving up costs in all sectors.

“This feeds through to the huge increase in the size of the council housing waiting list we have seen over the last three years.

“The main cause of homelessness remains eviction from private rented housing and the increase over the last few years may well reflect rising rent levels across the city.

“However, during the last year homelessness appears to be levelling out and at no point has it gone above the high point seen in 2005.

“However the bottom line is that not enough homes are being built in the city to meet the demand and until that is addressed we will continue to see these problems.”

A council spokesman said money spent also included services like the traveller service, which he said was likely to inflate the figures.

He claimed the bulk of payments for statutory homelessness and on hostels for temporary accommodation was offset by rent income from the temporary housing stock.

Councillor Bill Randall, chairman of the council’s housing committee, said: “Tackling homelessness is a priority we take very seriously.

“The reasons for people being homeless vary enormously from a relationship breakup to drug and alcohol use and the increasing costs of private accommodation, which is the leading cause of homelessness.

“We are determined to help rough sleepers and work hard with our city partners to deliver pioneering services like the No Second Night Out initiative and pop-up homeless hubs.”

Comments (10)

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4:42pm Tue 1 Jul 14

chrismilo says...

People coming down from up North or where ever for the summer and adding to Problems should be sent home
Families having Kids just to get social housing should also be stopped anyways having Kids without proper roots is irresponsible.
Yes im a true Brightoninan
People coming down from up North or where ever for the summer and adding to Problems should be sent home Families having Kids just to get social housing should also be stopped anyways having Kids without proper roots is irresponsible. Yes im a true Brightoninan chrismilo
  • Score: 3

4:57pm Tue 1 Jul 14

P.Dant says...

Became homeless in Brighton or came to Brighton homeless ? Is Brighton having to take the burden other places should be taking ? Why do homeless people favour Brighton ? The intrepid reporter failed to ask these pertinent and probing questions.
Became homeless in Brighton or came to Brighton homeless ? Is Brighton having to take the burden other places should be taking ? Why do homeless people favour Brighton ? The intrepid reporter failed to ask these pertinent and probing questions. P.Dant
  • Score: 21

6:23pm Tue 1 Jul 14

Zeta Function says...

There are a number of rough sleepers from Slovakia, Czech republic and Hungary.
There are a number of rough sleepers from Slovakia, Czech republic and Hungary. Zeta Function
  • Score: 6

8:32pm Tue 1 Jul 14

Morpheus says...

If these people were homeless when they arrived here then it is not a Brighton problem.
If these people were homeless when they arrived here then it is not a Brighton problem. Morpheus
  • Score: 9

8:55pm Tue 1 Jul 14

nissancars says...

chrismilo wrote:
People coming down from up North or where ever for the summer and adding to Problems should be sent home
Families having Kids just to get social housing should also be stopped anyways having Kids without proper roots is irresponsible.
Yes im a true Brightoninan
people dont choose to be homeless. northeners dont just come in the summer. they are offered a train ticket back to where they travelled from and are offered no help if they have no children.try talking to one of the rough sleepers and maybe your opinions may mellow.im a true brightonian also and i offer help when i can as i have struggled with housing many many years ago. england should be for the english but this homelessness is in almost every town in this country
[quote][p][bold]chrismilo[/bold] wrote: People coming down from up North or where ever for the summer and adding to Problems should be sent home Families having Kids just to get social housing should also be stopped anyways having Kids without proper roots is irresponsible. Yes im a true Brightoninan[/p][/quote]people dont choose to be homeless. northeners dont just come in the summer. they are offered a train ticket back to where they travelled from and are offered no help if they have no children.try talking to one of the rough sleepers and maybe your opinions may mellow.im a true brightonian also and i offer help when i can as i have struggled with housing many many years ago. england should be for the english but this homelessness is in almost every town in this country nissancars
  • Score: -4

11:12pm Tue 1 Jul 14

rolivan says...

I would like to be a fly on the wall in Andy Winters office and listen to a conversation which could go something like this.Hello Andy it's QED here, any chance of us supplying you with some more of the Containers as the £650 per month we are getting for the first 36 are turning out to be a really good little earner.
I would like to be a fly on the wall in Andy Winters office and listen to a conversation which could go something like this.Hello Andy it's QED here, any chance of us supplying you with some more of the Containers as the £650 per month we are getting for the first 36 are turning out to be a really good little earner. rolivan
  • Score: 3

2:13am Wed 2 Jul 14

colin218 says...

I bet some people in Brighton are so narrow minded that they'd have problems if their new neighbours weren't born on the same housing estate and couldn't prove that at least 5 generations of their ancestors came from Brighton
I bet some people in Brighton are so narrow minded that they'd have problems if their new neighbours weren't born on the same housing estate and couldn't prove that at least 5 generations of their ancestors came from Brighton colin218
  • Score: 1

7:52am Wed 2 Jul 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

What is shocking is the number of them sleeping on pavements and in doorways in the middle of the day in prime locations or openly drinking. Yesterday a young chap was laying on Western Road fast asleep half naked in a sleeping bag while shoppers passed by.
New Street is shocking. There are groups of them shouting, begging, harassing tourists outside the theatre and on the benches. Also they target folk in the taxi rank queue,
It's worse now than it ever has been. This is the sort of thing I expected the so-called socialist Green Party to manage/help but they were too busy installing a £1500 light up bus stop in Preston Park for their wealthy supporters and putting up tourist signs which are already covered in stickers and graffiti.
That is the root of the problem. A party in control which is only interested in vanity projects.
What is shocking is the number of them sleeping on pavements and in doorways in the middle of the day in prime locations or openly drinking. Yesterday a young chap was laying on Western Road fast asleep half naked in a sleeping bag while shoppers passed by. New Street is shocking. There are groups of them shouting, begging, harassing tourists outside the theatre and on the benches. Also they target folk in the taxi rank queue, It's worse now than it ever has been. This is the sort of thing I expected the so-called socialist Green Party to manage/help but they were too busy installing a £1500 light up bus stop in Preston Park for their wealthy supporters and putting up tourist signs which are already covered in stickers and graffiti. That is the root of the problem. A party in control which is only interested in vanity projects. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 4

12:32pm Wed 2 Jul 14

Joshiman says...

What do we expect from a welcoming Council.Never used to be as bad as this.Travellers playing musical fields/parks.Homeles
s in containers paid for by the taxpayer to line the owners pockets.Tenters/camp
ers street drunks/druggies/begg
ers.No wonder Mr.Kitcat is leaving .He has lost control.
What do we expect from a welcoming Council.Never used to be as bad as this.Travellers playing musical fields/parks.Homeles s in containers paid for by the taxpayer to line the owners pockets.Tenters/camp ers street drunks/druggies/begg ers.No wonder Mr.Kitcat is leaving .He has lost control. Joshiman
  • Score: 4

6:57pm Wed 2 Jul 14

gheese77 says...

Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
What is shocking is the number of them sleeping on pavements and in doorways in the middle of the day in prime locations or openly drinking. Yesterday a young chap was laying on Western Road fast asleep half naked in a sleeping bag while shoppers passed by.
New Street is shocking. There are groups of them shouting, begging, harassing tourists outside the theatre and on the benches. Also they target folk in the taxi rank queue,
It's worse now than it ever has been. This is the sort of thing I expected the so-called socialist Green Party to manage/help but they were too busy installing a £1500 light up bus stop in Preston Park for their wealthy supporters and putting up tourist signs which are already covered in stickers and graffiti.
That is the root of the problem. A party in control which is only interested in vanity projects.
Anyone would think you were using this issue just to have a politically motivated dig at the current council. Brighton always has had a problem with transient homeless people especially in the summer time, I can remember 25 years ago, the bus stop at Norfolk square used to be like a scene from Mad Max.
[quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: What is shocking is the number of them sleeping on pavements and in doorways in the middle of the day in prime locations or openly drinking. Yesterday a young chap was laying on Western Road fast asleep half naked in a sleeping bag while shoppers passed by. New Street is shocking. There are groups of them shouting, begging, harassing tourists outside the theatre and on the benches. Also they target folk in the taxi rank queue, It's worse now than it ever has been. This is the sort of thing I expected the so-called socialist Green Party to manage/help but they were too busy installing a £1500 light up bus stop in Preston Park for their wealthy supporters and putting up tourist signs which are already covered in stickers and graffiti. That is the root of the problem. A party in control which is only interested in vanity projects.[/p][/quote]Anyone would think you were using this issue just to have a politically motivated dig at the current council. Brighton always has had a problem with transient homeless people especially in the summer time, I can remember 25 years ago, the bus stop at Norfolk square used to be like a scene from Mad Max. gheese77
  • Score: 2

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