The number of private tenants who have become homeless due to being kicked out of their homes has risen steeply in Brighton and Hove over the past five years.
The number of households approaching the city council after being made homeless either because of the end of a tenancy or because of rent arrears has almost tripled from 88 in 2009 to 248 last year, and 201 by November 9 this year.
And it’s likely many of these will have ended up on the streets, as those working with the homeless say that while there’s been a drop in the overall number of rough sleepers this year, they’ve noticed a rise in those made homeless because they can’t afford Brighton and Hove’s high rents.
Brighton neighbourhood team’s Sergeant Richard Siggs, who works closely with the city’s street community, said: “People are becoming homeless a lot quicker than they were five or six years ago.
“This summer we saw a reduction in the number of people who are rough sleeping. It’s the first time in three years that we have seen that reduction.
“But we’re seeing people on the streets who simply can’t afford their rent and are being locked out of their accommodation and they have nowhere to go. People who are there with their suitcases and a black bin liner that’s because they have lost their job and they’re out.
“There might be a relationship breakdown – we have experienced it more and it’s most likely linked to stresses of no job, no money, no house and the relationship breaks down.”
Over the last five or six years, the numbers of rough sleepers in the city had increased dramatically, from about ten to more than 100, which has led to people becoming used to seeing homelessness on the streets.
This year, homelessness has perhaps seemed more visible, with more tents going up in parks and under the pier, and begging on the streets – but the city’s rough sleeper count hasn’t recorded an increase.
A perceived rise in homelessness was brought up at the last meeting of the London Road Area Local Action Team, which covers an area popular with rough sleepers.
But chief executive of Brighton Housing Trust Andy Winter said that people may be mistaking street begging for rough sleeping.
He told Brighton and Hove News: “Every year for the last three years we had a peak over the summer months. But this year, we haven’t had the same sort of seasonal migration
“People would be coming along, the day centre would be crowded but with people who were not interested in engaging – they were here because it was a nice place to come for the summer.
“We began restricting their right to access to the day centre, saying we will work with you to get access to housing where you’ve come from, but coming here for six weeks isn’t helping anyone.
“There were people who weren’t interested. We challenged that and a lot of other agencies are getting consistent with that message. We think the message got through and we haven’t seen the people returning.
“The signs on the street are more visible then ever before, but there’s a nuance here in terms of who people see.
“If they see people in the morning, from 8am to midday, they may well be rough sleepers but they also might be people who are begging. There are lucrative patches where they can beg and make quite a lot of money by presenting themselves as rough sleepers.”
The figures, released to Brighton and Hove News in response to a freedom of information request, also showed that of those approaching the council after being evicted from a private tenancy, the council housed 34 in 2009 and 96 last year, with a rise from 22 to 28 in those deemed to have made themselves intentionally homeless.
The rest are likely to have been households the council had no statutory duty to house, which includes single people and those with no local link.
The figures in full:
The number of households who have presented as homeless to Brighton and Hove City Council due to the end of a private tenancy
2015- (to 9 November) 210
The number of households who have been housed by the council as a result (accepted from the above applications)
2015- (to 9 November) 92
The number of household who were deemed to have made themselves intentionally homeless due to the end of a private tenancy
2015- (to 9 November) 16
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