A homelessness expert says “Brighton is now full” after a family-size tent was pitched outside the railway station.

The four-person tent was put up outside International House at the top of Queen’s Road on Tuesday night. Those inside have been sheltering from the recent downpours.

It is the first thing people arriving in Brighton see when they leave the station.

Andy Winter, former chief executive of homelessness charity Brighton Housing Trust, said the city is at breaking point as it struggles to deal with the number of rough sleepers.

“Brighton is full," he said. "People are coming here with the wrong impression, with memories of childhood holidays or things they have seen on television in hope of a better future, but it’s not what people think it is.

“Tents themselves give the wrong impression that we have accepted homelessness in our city. Many are not suitable for the climate that we are in.

The Argus: People were seen in the tent sheltering from the rainPeople were seen in the tent sheltering from the rain (Image: The Argus)

“They are not safe for people living in them or those working to help them. If someone has an emergency inside a tent, it can’t be seen.

“We need to get these people off the streets as quickly as possible and in homes.”

In 2023, Brighton and Hove City Council said that by 2027 it wanted to develop a flourishing and inclusive local economy that attracts and nurtures businesses and talent.

Daniel Harris, a homelessness campaigner, said the council cannot promote Brighton as a business and investment hub “while the first thing people see when they get here is a tent”.

“The visible homelessness issue is dire, with tragic stories behind those in tents facing safety risks daily,” he said.

“The real crime is leaving them with just a tent as home. I've observed other cities addressing this by providing safe spaces with facilities. Creating safe sanctioned areas with outreach, washing and healthcare facilities can make a significant impact.

“Acknowledging the crisis, a collaborative approach with authorities and a homeless healthcare hub could bring positive change which will benefit health, the economy, and housing needs.”

The Argus: People can see the large tent as they leave the railway stationPeople can see the large tent as they leave the railway station (Image: The Argus)

Daniel said “limited housing options” in Brighton mean it is difficult for people to escape rough sleeping.

“To address this, exploring alternatives beyond cramming people into mass homeless housing is crucial,” he said.

“The council needs to innovate in mitigating government cuts, considering options like reducing reliance on the expensive private and third sector for statutory housing.

“A strategic approach involves building more council homes, council-owned emergency accommodation to modern standards ensuring safety and relocating those without genuine local ties where feasible and safe to do so.”

The council said it works "extremely hard" to support anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Councillor Gill Williams, chairwoman of the city council's housing committee, said: “This tent was reported to us on Monday and we visited it as soon as we could the following day.

The Argus: The tent was first seen in Queen's Road on February 20The tent was first seen in Queen's Road on February 20 (Image: The Argus)

“Our street homeless outreach service always works with tent dwellers to help them find accommodation.

“Our primary concern with unauthorised encampments in our city is the welfare of the people living in them.

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“Our response to each encampment depends on the individual circumstances of the people living there.

“We have a welfare first approach and offer help if those in tents are homeless, and always take action to remove encampments as soon as these circumstances and due legal process allow."

Cllr Williams said the council is paying for more than 700 supported accommodation units.