THE Argus is full of stories every day about Brighton’s housing crisis. Rents have soared, owning a house seems unrealistic, and more rough sleepers are appearing on our streets.

It is clear the city is in need of housing, but plans for tower blocks across the city have been met with much resistance. Just how big is our housing crisis, what can be done about it, and will we ever get to a situation where everyone is happy?

It may not seem likely, but reporter Sam Brooke talked to tenants and experts across the city to find out their ideas for solutions.

CLICK onto any Facebook group in Brighton and you will most likely see someone complaining about housing.

Finding an affordable place to live has become a national crisis.

But Brighton and Hove seems to be affected more than most cities.

According to Government data, house prices in the city have increased by 668 per cent since 1995, the largest growth in the country.

That is more than double the UK average of 318 per cent.

You do not have to go far to hear stories of struggle in the housing market, especially among young people.

Louise Rewell, a 29-year-old mother of two, has had to live in her parents’ house with husband Stewart because her council flat became unaffordable.

“I had been on the housing list for six years and finally got into a housing block”, she said.

“It was an affordable block, but I had to get a deposit and two months’ rent in advance, so I had to borrow some money from my parents.

“After six months the rent went up and I couldn’t afford it with all I had borrowed.”

Louise and her family had to move into her parents’ bungalow, which required an extension so her family had room to live.

But this has still proved challenging.

“We still only have a bedroom for privacy and that’s it,” she said.

“My one-year-old’s crawling now but all he can do is go around the bedroom, that’s not enough for a child.

“The council won’t help us because we’re “adequately housed” and they took me off the housing list when I was housed.”

Those who decide to rent privately have also been having trouble.

Carer Beth Morlau, 30, said she has moved five times in the past month because of difficulties with landlords.

She said: “I’m working as a carer so I’m moving around a lot, but because I don’t drive I need somewhere central so it has good transport links.

“Landlords have been so hard to deal with, they have all of these requirements.

“I just want to have my own space away from people. How can I get that on minimum wage?”

So why is the housing market so crowded and so pricey in Brighton?

More than 9,000 people are on Brighton and Hove City Council’s housing waiting list.

But the council owns 11,571 homes, only 92 of which are empty.

Brighton Housing Trust chief executive Andy Winter said the city’s high prices are down to a “unique combination”.

He said: “There are people coming down from London to a whole host of reasons, mainly because of the arts and entertainment industries here.

“We also have the effects of our city being between the Downs and the sea, so there’s hardly any space for Brighton to expand.

“It’s fuelled by the demand in people moving down from London who can afford the high prices.

“The whole situation is a complete and utter mess.”

Mr Winter said there was only one solution to Brighton’s housing crisis: build more council housing.

“The Government pays huge amounts in housing benefit.

“If a lot of that went into building social housing it would be better, but instead all of this money goes straight into paying rent.

“That’s millions going into the pocket of developers and letting agencies and never being seen by the Government again.

“We need investment in bricks and mortar which remains in public ownership so residents will benefit from it.”

But deciding where to build these homes has proved controversial.

Protests rocked the planned Coldean Lane development, set to be built on green land home to wildlife.

But many campaigners have touted the importance of building on “brownfield’”land.

These are derelict sites which have previously been developed but have not been used.

The city council has identified dozens of such sites which could provide valuable space for housing.

Hugh Dennis, founder of not-for-profit organisation Little Ships, hopes to encourage developers to look at these plots as a good opportunity.

“About 25 years ago I was living and working in central London and we had a tiny little flat, which we were quite lucky to have,” he said.

“But at that time I was cycling around London and noticed these little plots of land and thought ‘why don’t they build houses here?’

“Now in Brighton we’ve had the Coldean Lane development approved recently on greenfield land.

“The city council can do better than that.”

Mr Dennis claimed about 200 sites in Brighton could be used for at least ten units of housing each.

“That’s about 2,000 homes, which can make a dent in the housing crisis”, he said.

“There are so many sites owned by the NHS, the police, the ambulance service, that aren’t being used and could make for great housing, but it’s not their jobs to do that.”

Current city council plans are to build 800 new homes by 2023.

Housing committee chairman Cllr John Allcock said the council will “try to develop on brownfield sites as much as possible”.

“We’ve built 185 homes so far, including the just completed development in Kensington Street,” he said.

“However, most brownfield sites are owned privately and we have limited control over the development of those.

“In terms of council housing, we are committed to setting rent levels on our new housing as low as we can.

“For private developments, our planning policy aims for 40 per cent affordable housing in all new developments, and we negotiate as high as we can.”

But Cllr Allcock said the Government needed to take action on rent controls.

He said: “Local authorities have no power to introduce rent controls.

“Many other European countries have rent controls in different forms.”

Ultimately, a housing criss of this size can only be dealt with via Government action.

But there are multiple solutions that can all work together.