Death toll explored in Brighton and Hove emergency housing report

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.

Kendal Court

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.

  1. Racket Reply

    Brighton and Hove council are incompetent and hypocritical when it comes to housing standards, especially, emergency, accommodation. BHCC is the single biggest purchaser of revolting slum accommodation in this city – lucrative sponsors of some of the worst landlords – pays them millions. So-called temporary, emergency accommodation purchased from slum landlords using spot purchasing without any contracts, no standards – Decent Homes standards do not apply. Soiled, shabby, damp, stale, revolting places that do not pass the smell test – slums. Unscrupulous landlords who charge eye watering rates to house vulnerable people without any risk assessments whosever. People dumped in slums to die. BHCC is complicit and conveniently ignores the truth. The coroner refuses to join the dots. It is a dodgy racket that requires in-depth investigation.

  2. Heather Reply

    I agree wholeheartedly with the above. A culture of coldhearted callousness and fudged finances prevails. Investigation needed.

  3. Daniel Harris Reply

    Sadly I am not surprised but I am extremely disappointed this is just seen as a consequence to cuts. Its an issue, but when you really delve into the money coming via various streams you start to understand why.

    We have companies profiting from the poor and evicting almost daily. We need to enact the Homeless Bill of Rights and look too change some of the management staff overseeing this systematic failure.

    No more excuses and councillors need to at. Sadly in 2015 Support for this in Emergency and Temporary Accommodation was removed. This decision and fully in-house services been to become a priority. We need to deal with the issue not bury our heads in the ground.

    Its clear things won’t change until we change the culture of the toxic management in the housing and particularly temporary and emergency accommodation and housing options management.

    Stop the exploitation and listen to the residents rather then bury there complains. We need the UN to come into Brighton and Hove and launch an investigation.

  4. Sarah Reply

    I live in temp literally two minutes on foot from here , it’s awful I always think of the poor people in there .

    Councils have no heart they’re all trained on front line to say the same on repeat ( swear they brain wash )
    After a year my journey of hell is still ongoing

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