AN £8 million plan to tackle homelessness is being considered by councillors today.

It comes as it was revealed more than 200 people from Brighton and Hove are still being housed in Eastbourne and Lewes.

The number is down from a peak of 330 last year after the city council scrambled to find places for rough sleepers shortly after the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

But a senior member of Eastbourne Borough Council criticised Brighton and said the unacceptable practice was making it harder for Eastbourne to house its own rough sleepers.

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Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell has twice raised the issue in the House of Commons.

The £8 million package of measures is due to be considered by the city council’s housing committee today and by the policy and resources committee just over a fortnight later.

They include:

l To approve a capital budget of £2.8 million, financed by £700,000 from the government and borrowing of £2.1 million to be repaid from rents, to buy 12 homes where “higher need” rough sleepers will be given support.

l To approve a capital budget of £3.24 million to buy 30 properties on ten-year leases to deliver “rapid rehousing for lower need” rough sleepers, financed by £1.163 million from the government and borrowing of £2.08 million to be repaid from rents.

l To approve the continued use of emergency short-term hotels from next month until next March “in light of continuing pressures of those to whom the council owes a statutory accommodation duty under the Homelessness Reduction Act in emergency accommodation”.

l To use £1.615 million left over from a relevant government grant to reduce the forecast £2.6 million overspend on temporary housing.

l To fund 15 to 20 hotel rooms to be used as part of the SWEP (severe weather emergency protocol) from October to next March.

A report to the housing committee said: “The council has for many years had to use some emergency short-term accommodation outside the city due to the capacity of the market within the city.

“However, as previously reported following the outbreak of the pandemic and the increasing need for emergency accommodation, these figures escalated to a peak of 330 in Eastbourne and Lewes areas.

“We have worked hard to identify additional accommodation within the city and have managed to reduce numbers down to 234 as of September 10.

“We are committed to continuing to reduce our need to make placements outside of the city to a pre-pandemic level, taking into account some clients will need to be placed out of borough for their own safety, and to reduce our overall need for temporary and emergency accommodation as we refocus on prevention.”

The council brought in 369 people who were sleeping on the streets or otherwise homeless at the start of the first national lockdown.

It is still trying to find suitable longer-term housing for 167 of those people but is struggling to find the right places, with many troubled individuals in need of significant support.

Since March last year, the council has sent back – or “reconnected” – 149 homeless people to where they have stronger local links, with more than 30 of those being sent back more recently.

The report said that a rough sleeper count in Brighton and Hove in July found 28 people on the streets, half the 56 who were found a year earlier.

The council is trying to buy, rent and build more homes to tackle the shortage of supply, particularly of temporary and emergency housing, for those in greatest need.

Although it has been given millions of pounds extra funding by the government, the budget for temporary housing could be overspent by £2.6 million by next spring.

Officers said they could use government cash to cut the overspend by just over £1.6 million and bring it down to just under £1 million.