Green councillors are urging Brighton and Hove City Council to spend a “spare” £8 million on tackling the housing and homelessness crisis.
The party said that the council could spend £8 million more on affordable and emergency housing if a Green proposal is supported by other parties at a meeting this afternoon (Thursday 14 February).
It said that questions from the Greens over the state of council housing finances had revealed that the council has almost £31 million of borrowed funds available to spend on housing.
Councillor David Gibson, who speaks for the party on housing, said that this borrowed money was being “sat on” and could help to alleviate the crisis in homelessness and rough sleeping.
If approved, the Green proposals would mean that £3.5 million of this budget was used to purchase council-run emergency homeless accommodation, a move that the Greens say would save money and create a more accountable service.
Reports from last year suggested that the cost to the council of buying emergency accommodation from private landlords had increased every year since 2015, in some cases by up to £800,000 a year.
Greens have also identified a further £3.5 million that could be used to expand the council housing supply in Brighton and Hove.
The party is pushing the council to make use of the additional budget to ensure that tenants are offered genuinely affordable social and living rents.
Councillor Gibson said: “The Labour council has money at its disposal through borrowing – yet these vast sums are still unspent.
“Our plan will boost the housing budget so that we can do more to tackle homelessness.
If other parties agree to our calls, we would boost the council’s housing budget considerably.
“Instead of watching the costs of purchasing emergency accommodation from private landlords increase year on year, we could provide much-needed long-term affordable homes and emergency accommodation for the homeless.
“Over a year ago all parties supported a Green group proposal calling for emergency accommodation services to be brought back ‘in house’ in order to save money and improve conditions – so I am hopeful they will support taking this forwards.
“Overall we will reverse the proposed cut to this year’s housing programme, hardly a big ask when we have the money and a housing crisis which cries out for urgent action.
“We could also create a budget so we can start to offer new council homes at genuinely affordable social or living rents.
“Money is available – we need to get on and spend it, as the housing and homelessness crisis in our city requires immediate and positive action.”
The Greens hope to win support from Labour and Conservative councillors at a meeting of the council’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee at Hove Town Hall this afternoon.
The meeting is due to start at 4pm and is open to the public.