Greens call for good work on night shelter to continue year-round
Green Party Councillors in Brighton and Hove are calling for year round support to end rough sleeping as the Brighton Centre Night Shelter closes its doors.
Last January Green Councillors successfully called on the council to use its empty buildings to accommodate rough sleepers. The temporary shelter, which has supported 102 people since opening in December last year was a direct result of that call.
A recent public petition signed by over 5,000 people calling for 365 day provision for rough sleepers gained backing from all parties. However Green Councillors have raised concerns that news on longer term provision for rough sleepers has fallen quiet. Along with the decision of the Council to continue funding for homeless provision from April, Green Councillors are calling for the Council to act with greater urgency to end rough sleeping and to put plans in place for a year-round resource.
Green Party Housing Spokesperson David Gibson commented:
“Almost a year after the original proposal from the Greens to open up empty buildings for use as shelters, we heard from the manager of the Brighton Centre shelter at the weekend that ‘it is possible that we have saved lives this winter.’
“For 36 local people, the shelter was a first step towards permanent accommodation and in four cases, recovery. It is great to hear that in such a short time the shelter achieved so much, and a credit to all those working and volunteering to provide services to end homelessness. However, with the doors closing, what we need now is a clear sense of urgency from the Labour Council to provide similar services on a more permanent basis.
“We demand more action to end the city’s housing scandal. Green budget proposals that focused on ending rough sleeping, such as expanding Housing First and setting up Council-run emergency accommodation were voted against by the other two parties.
We are pleased to hear that the night shelter helped so many off the streets, but it took the Council almost a year to get even this provisional shelter in place and then it was forced to move buildings twice. Work needs to start now on setting up a long-term facility that helps rough sleepers move on to supported accommodation and we must do this in time for when the budget becomes available in April.
With homelessness rising and affordable housing out of reach, the most vulnerable in our city should not have to wait any longer for more permanent provision. The housing scandal is a crisis and it needs to be treated as one.”
Rough sleeping has doubled in the past two years. Council figures show that rough sleepers can wait an average of 12 weeks before some form of accommodation is provided. The official estimate for this winter is confirmed as 178 rough sleepers in Brighton & Hove, a rise of around 20 per cent from last year’s figure of 144.