A ONCE homeless 80-year-old man says the death of 19 rough sleepers this year was “needless”.

John Hadman, who says he was evicted from his house at the age of 74, is campaigning to keep Brighton’s homeless shelters open 365 days a year.

His campaign comes after the city council confirmed that in the last six months, 15 homeless people have died in the city.

Mr Hadman, who has launched a petition, said he was forced to leave his house in Peacehaven after being taken to hospital for an emergency operation.

“I was evicted. I was homeless for a brief time, then they moved all my possessions and I spent 14 weeks in temporary accommodation. The conditions were awful, there was pigeon faeces all over the inside of my window.

“I still had a catheter in after the operation, but the nurse couldn’t change it in the building because she said the place was too dirty. It had never been cleaned.

“I remember how old I was at the time because my room was broken into on my 74th birthday.”

Mr Hadman said despite a rise in homelessness in the city this year, there have been cuts in the number of beds for rough sleepers, who now have to wait an average of 12 weeks for accommodation.

He is asking the council to spend its existing budget for homelessness and keep the shelters open year-round, not just when temperatures reach freezing point.

He said: “If you’re homeless, it’s a slippery slope.

“When it’s cold outside, what do you do? You turn to drink. Then you’re an easy target for drug dealers.

“Over my lifetime, the problem has got worse.

“I’ve seen lots of changes to social services. With Universal Credit now, it’s as though the Government is saying people can’t handle money. They have to be drip-fed it.”

Mr Hadman said his campaign comes out of concern for the next generation. He said: “Eight hundred thousand people on zero-hours contracts don’t know if they have a job today.

“It’s hard for them now. When youngsters are forced to sleep rough, that’s not going to give them a chance in life.

“They deteriorate on the streets. We should be protecting them.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Since April 2019, we are aware of 15 people who are homeless and died in the city.

“Most were in emergency accommodation, one was rough sleeping, the others in supported accommodation. We carry out mortality reviews on every death.”

Councillor Nikki Brennan said finding a shelter which would open year round was a priority.

She said: “We have committed funds and put a lot of work into finding a building for a night shelter, which will open 365 days a year.

“Expression of interests went out this summer asking organisations if they would be interested in running it.

“It’s my priority to secure a suitable venue and ensure this vital shelter is up and running as early as possible.”

Mr Hadman’s petition is online at http://tiny.cc/nightshelter365