Rough sleeper numbers creep up again in Brighton

The number of people sleeping rough in Brighton and Hove is creeping back up again, according to official figures.

A count carried out on a night in September found 39 people sleeping rough, according to Brighton and Hove City Council, up from 28 in July.

Numbers had fallen since the government’s “everyone in” policy was brought in at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

The council published the latest figures in a draft housing performance report for the second quarter of 2021-22. The report was shared at housing panel meetings this month.

The figures are relatively low by historic standards in Brighton and Hove but not show the real picture, according to homelessness campaigner Jim Deans.

Mr Deans, who runs Sussex Homeless Support CIC, believes that more than 100 people are sleeping rough locally, with even more living in squats or sofa surfing.

He said: “We’re seeing more women on the streets than ever and we’re seeing refugees on the street.

“They are not begging on the streets. They are attending food stations and street kitchens and even some of the food banks that don’t make the referral process.”

Mr Deans said that last week his team helped a woman with a 25-day-old baby which he said was “a whole different level”.

Since the “everyone in” policy almost cleared the streets of rough sleepers overnight, the council has been trying to provide longer-term housing for those who were sleeping rough or in shelter dormitories.

But the council said that it no longer ran its traditional night shelter because hostel-style shared accommodation was not recommended because of the pandemic – to try to limit the spread of covid-19.

At a council meeting last week, Green councillor David Gibson said that more than 800 people were accommodated during the pandemic, with 730 moving on to long-term accommodation.

Labour councillor Gill Williams said that more people were losing their homes now that the ban on evictions had ended.

Councillor Williams said: “The lifting of the ban on evictions is a major contributing factor in the rise of homelessness and this is undoubtedly exacerbated by the lack of secure affordable housing in the city.

“To stem the rise of homelessness, the government must halt the right to buy and invest in a substantial social housing building programme. This is the only long-term remedy to homelessness and rough sleeping.”

Conservative councillor Mary Mears said that the council had received more than £21 million from the government to support the homeless but rough sleeping remained an issue.

She said that she had tried to bring a motion to the last two meetings of the full council calling for an audit on how the council had spent the government grants.

But on both occasions, Councillor Mears said, the meetings were cancelled. She added: “There is clearly a cohort of rough sleepers that have remained on the streets throughout the pandemic, despite the council’s offer of accommodation being offered to all rough sleepers for over a year.

“The council needs to be clear-eyed about the reasons for this.

“We know that Andy Winter from BHT Sussex (formerly Brighton Housing Trust) has said that begging on the streets of Brighton has nothing to do with homelessness and everything to do with addiction – and continuing to allow it in the city does not help anyone.

“The aggressive begging going on in some parts of the city centre is off-putting to many elderly and female residents.”

Councillor Mears said that signing up to the Homeless Bill of Rights had encouraged rough sleeping and begging in Brighton and Hove.

  1. Paul Temple Reply

    What a surprise adopt the tokenistic Homeless Bill of Rights and rough sleeping begins to rise.

    • Hove Guy Reply

      And take a walk along Western Road to the Clock Tower and you will see more beggars and drunks than ever before. Christmas shoppers are an easy target, especially outside supermarkets and close to cash machines.

  2. Hovelassies Reply

    “hostel-style shared accommodation was not recommended because of the pandemic” – yet the council turned a blind eye to illegally trading chas-only dormitory hostel in Central Hove for many months, and even defended it, before eventually having to close it down because of a COVID outbreak. Negligent, inept and hypocritical at best….

  3. Chris Reply

    Just this minute got back from town center. I was there for 45 mins, was asked for money four times and somebody tried to sell me some drawings to pay for her bus home or was it a bed for the night. She seemed uncertain. I only saw one tent but a few sleeping bags in doorways. Shops should protest more/threaten to leave as it stops me going in.. I can’t be the only one…

    • Some Guy Reply

      How frequently should the homeless be gassed so we can secure your patronage, sir?

      • MikeyA Reply

        Logically,just once…

  4. Richard Pringle Reply

    My family used to shop in Marks and Spencer Western Road and in Churchill Square. Now they take the bus to Holmbush, rather than put up with the beggars, drunks and junkies. The place is a disgrace and a magnet for the worse dregs of the country. A quick internet searh of the names of those convicted for serious crimes locally shows many have form and served a prison sentence elsewhere in the UK.
    No sooner are they released than they head for the City of Refuge. Easily confused with City of Refuse.

    • Annie C Reply

      Totally agree. The same with my family. The final straw was a bunch of druggies on western road that got into a fight and instead of accepting the ambulance one of them sat there with blood pouring out of his head so he could get money for his next fix. When shopping with children sights like this you could do without. Totally disgusting that retailers are expected to operate and pay business rates whilst the council do everything to encourage anti-social behaviour in the main shopping areas. No other council puts up with this and instead it drives people into the arms of Amazon or forces them to drive to other towns to shop. Scarily the councillors don’t even acknowledge this is a problem. They are now talking about putting a new drug addict hostel next to the pavilion.

  5. Some Guy Reply

    It’s below 10C and wet out there tonight, just a couple of nights before Christmas. I’m _so_ sorry that your trips to the town centre were interrupted by the less fortunate.

    Wait, no I’m not. I’m disgusted that you can bring yourselves to comment like this. That’s the one.

    • Chaz. Reply

      ah bless Some Guy
      Don’t worry, I am sure the next time we see you in a door way with your cider bottle, we will pop a pound in your collection cup.
      Merry Christmas.

    • Hove Guy Reply

      People don’t come to Brighton to help line the pockets of the dealers. Or to be pestered by drunks, shouting at one another, or at them.

  6. Mike Reply

    could the availability of drugs have anything to do with the problem?

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