About 300 vulnerable people a year could benefit from a new service aimed at preventing homelessness in Brighton and Hove.
The Community Connections service, which can support over 120 people at a time, is designed to help people stay in their existing accommodation by working with landlords and housing agencies.
It will also provide those at risk of eviction with mental health support and help finding and sustaining new tenancies.
Tom Scanlon, Director of Public Health for Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “Few people in the city will have failed to notice the numbers of homeless people in our streets.
“Homeless people suffer significant mental and physical ill health and discrimination, and it has been estimated that their average age of death is just 47 years.”
In November 2014 Brighton and Hove recorded the 5th highest homelessness figures in England, while the Brighton and Hove Homeless Health Needs Audit 2014 found that 84% of rough sleepers reported at least one physical health issue and 85% reported at least one mental health issue.
However Jo Blaise-Martin, lettings manager at Massey Property Services, Hove, said one major issue was that the council itself prevents tenants receiving benefits from paying their rent on time.
She said: “All tenancies are set up to be paid per calendar month in advance. The council then immediately makes that difficult by paying housing benefit four weeks in arrears!
“If the payments were more in line and easier to monitor I think a lot more landlords would be open to the idea of helping someone who was fully or partly reliant on housing benefit.”
Sarah Bray, Manager of Community Connections at Southdown, who were awarded the care contract by Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “The situation calls for intervention and prevention because the severe lack of affordable housing, coupled with further changes to welfare benefits, will make it even harder to maintain tenancies.”
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