Homeless people will not be placed in an emergency housing block where a number of people have died while a review is carried out.
Brighton and Hove City Council has stopped sending people to Kendal Court in Newhaven after a series of deaths, the most recent last month.
The move came as East Sussex County Council said that it would start legal action against the city council, with one councillor accusing Brighton and Hove of outsourcing people with complex needs to die.
Green councillor Siriol High-Jones told Brighton and Hove City Council’s Housing Committee that placements had been paused at a meeting at Hove Town Hall yesterday (Wednesday 19 January).
She gave an update as Conservative councillors prepared to put a motion calling on the council to stop placing homeless people in places without adequate support – at Kendal Court and in Eastbourne.
Conservative councillor Mary Mears cited a review of Kendal Court residents’ experiences by Healthwatch East Sussex as she spoke about the council’s failings.
There had been two reports about Kendal Court before the Housing Committee as well as the Brighton and Hove City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board in 2018.
These showed that this was “not a new issue”, Councillor Mears said.
She added: “The reality is that housing vulnerable clients out of the city without 24-7 support is detrimental to their health and, in a worst-case scenario, their lives.
“We have seen many others voicing their opinions and concerns that Kendal Court should be closed – the MP, other service providers with years of experience – along with concerns raised by the county council.
“Before there is another death, this council needs to take action to address the serious consequences of using Kendal Court for the service they require.”
Green councillor David Gibson cited the latest Healthwatch report and said that improvements made since 2018 were acknowledged although there were still concerns about lack of support.
Councillor Gibson said: “There have to be concerns when anyone dies in emergency accommodation, as they have done in other emergency accommodation provided by the council.
“For that reason, the council has suspended lettings at Kendal Court while a review takes place.
“It’s appropriate that an updated report on this review is brought to members of this committee and that review also addresses the wider concerns about support for people in emergency accommodation.”
Labour councillor Gill Williams said that she was relieved at the pause in referrals to Kendal Court because she was concerned about the deaths there.
She said: “We do need to address the quality of accommodation and the quality of support services. We can always improve and it always needs monitoring. This is a good opportunity to do just that.”
Conservative councillor Anne Meadows, who used to chair the Housing Committee as a Labour councillor, questioned whether the committee needed more reports.
She said: “We are asking for 24-hour support. We believe that is essential if placing homeless people outside of the area.”
Councillor Meadows was concerned that Labour and Green councillors voted down a Conservative request for a report to show how the council had spent government funding for homeless people.
The Greens and Conservatives accused each other of using the homeless as a “political football”.
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