Thirty-one homeless people have died while being temporarily housed by Brighton and Hove City Council in the past two years, a new report shows.
The figures have come to light after concerns were raised about how hard or easy it was for people housed outside Brighton and Hove to obtain the support they relied on.
The report was ordered after a spate of deaths at an emergency accommodation block in Newhaven.
Five people died in just two months last summer at Kendal Court. The new report said that over the past two years, 12 people had died in emergency accommodation supplied by the council, within and outside Brighton and Hove.
A further 19 had died in longer-term temporary accommodation, all of which was within Brighton and Hove.
Of the 31 people, 14 died of natural causes, six from multiple health problems, three from drugs and two from suicide. The causes of death of the remaining six were not known.
The council currently housed 493 households in emergency accommodation, the report said, with 365 of those within Brighton and Hove and 128 outside. A further 1,600 households were in longer-term temporary accommodation.
Officials were asked to look at the differences in services available in Newhaven and Brighton and Hove.
The report said that because of the shortage and high costs of emergency accommodation in Brighton and Hove, all newly homeless households were now initially housed in other areas, including Newhaven.
It said: “Due to the demand for emergency accommodation, invariably there is no availability in the city. We will therefore have to place households out of area initially.
“Some individuals have been banned from emergency accommodation within the city due to serious breaches of their licence agreement, which means that the only option for accommodation is outside of the city.”
An equalities assessment dated 2017 included in the papers said: “Concerns have been raised that being accommodated outside of the city adversely affects some households.
“A range of both internal and external departments and agencies … have raised concerns about individuals and households being placed outside of the city due to the difficulties that may be experienced regarding such matters as access to schools, medical services, etc.
“Most of the support groups that provide help for those in emergency accommodation are not able to effectively offer help for those placed outside the city. This is because their services are restricted or commissioned to work with households only within the city limits.”
The report said that Newhaven had no dedicated drug advice service or mental health service, according to the report. These were based in Eastbourne and Hastings. There were advice services for paid jobs and voluntary work as well as a food bank.
By comparison, the report said that Brighton and Hove had seven organisations dedicated to supporting the homeless with various housing needs.
A further four organisations offered general health services and support for the homeless, while two others helped people with mental health issues and three services helped people with substance abuse problems.
There were currently 13 people at Kendal Court who need supported accommodation and a further 11 who were likely to need it.
But there were also now 215 people on the council’s waiting list for supported accommodation in Brighton and Hove, including those requiring mental health support and young people seeking homes.
Of those, 51 were in emergency accommodation, with 38 currently living in Brighton and Hove and 13 outside.
In an effort to deal with the problem, in January this year the council’s Housing Department employed two welfare officers to support people in emergency accommodation.
Southdown Housing, which provides supported housing for vulnerable people, is recruiting a support worker for people in emergency accommodation who are at risk of rough sleeping. This role is funded by Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government until the end of March next year.
The council’s Adult Social Care Department is recruiting a permanent full-time social worker to work with people who have been accommodated in emergency accommodation as a result of mental health problems.