One in 69 people in Brighton and Hove are either in temporary accommodation or sleeping on the streets, making it by far the worst area in the south east for homelessness, a shocking new reports reveals today.
Housing charity Shelter today said it was launching an urgent appeal after it calculated that homelessness in the south east has risen 20 per cent in just a year.
And it warns that the true figures are likely to be even higher, as they do not include hidden homelessness.
According to the latest available figures, in Brighton and Hove, 4,074 people are in temporary accommodation, and 144 are sleeping rough, a total of 4,218 out of a population of 289,229.
The next worse area in the south east is Milton Keynes, with a total of 2,396 homeless people, and Slough with 1,117. All other areas are in three figures or less.
Across the UK, Brighton is ranked 20th. Every other area in the top 20 is in London, except for Luton. The worst three areas are Newham, Haringey and Westminster with one in 25, 29 and 31 people homeless there respectively.
Andy Winter, chief executive of Brighton Housing Trust, said: “These figures do not surprise me but they sadden me deeply.
“Each one of these 4,218 individuals has uncertainty in their lives, and most will be experiencing the extreme hardship resulting from not having somewhere to call home.
“In one of the richest cities in one of the richest countries in the world, these figures highlight the human tragedy of homelessness as well the need for a radical change in government policy.
“We need a fundamental change in approach and a massive programme of council house building.
“Merely building more top of the range flats and houses in Brighton will do nothing to help this appalling situation. That will merely fuel the inflationary consequences resulting from people selling up and moving down from London.
“We are seeing people who have been in housing for a considerable amount of time losing their accommodation due to relation breakdowns and the ending of assured shorthold tenancies which has been the single greatest factor for people ending up homeless.
“Thank goodness that the majority of the 4,218 are not rough sleeping. As well as building new council houses, we need to prevent people losing their homes in the first place by continuing to ensure that housing and other advice services are properly funded.”
Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate said: “It’s shocking to think that today, almost 28,000 people in the South East are waking up homeless.
“Some will have spent the night shivering on a cold pavement, others crammed into a dingy, hostel room with their children. And what is worse, many are simply unaccounted for.
“On a daily basis, we speak to people and families who are desperately trying to escape the devastating trap of homelessness.
“A trap that is tightening thanks to decades of failure to build enough affordable homes and the impact of welfare cuts.
“As this crisis continues to unfold, the work of our frontline advisers remains absolutely critical.
“We will do all we can to make sure no-one is left to fight homelessness on their own. But we cannot achieve this alone; we urgently need the public’s support to be there for everyone who needs us right now.”
Across London, a staggering one in 53 people are calculated to be homeless. This figure includes the number of people sleeping in hostels, which is not available on a local authority level.
Shelter says the figures do not include “hidden” or unrecorded homelessness which is very difficult to quantify but known to be sizeable.
A poll of 2,000 UK adults commissioned by Homeless Link in December 2013, found that 32 per cent of people have experienced homelessness (including sofa surfing and staying with friends) or know someone who has experienced homelessness.
Fourteen per cent had experienced it themselves, 20 per cent knew someone else who had experienced it, 2 per cent said they had both experienced it and knew others who had.
To support Shelter’s urgent appeal please visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70080 to donate £3.