Using Council buildings for homeless shelters

14 November 2017


Green Councillors have today welcomed progress on their proposals to open up Council buildings for use as homeless shelters in the city.

Today’s announcement by the Council that part of the Brighton Centre will be opened up for rough sleepers marks an achievement for the Green Group, whose proposal to convert empty Council buildings into more night shelters received widespread backing in the January meeting of Full Council. [1] The proposals from the Greens also invited homelessness charities to help manage the new spaces. Places at the new shelter will be identified through outreach work from homelessness charities St Mungo’s and Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) in order to provide services and support to rough sleepers.

However with the announcement of a shelter coming almost ten months after the original proposals were agreed, Greens and campaigners have urged the Council to act swiftly to prevent more people from having to spend a night in the cold. Pressure has been building for more to be done about homelessness in the city, with a petition started by local resident John Hadman on the issue receiving almost 4,000 signatures.  Green MP Caroline Lucas has also called on the Council to honour their agreement to open a night shelter ready for this winter.

Councillor Tom Druitt, who proposed the original idea to Full Council, said:

“It’s great news that after many months of hard work, public support and campaigning the Council will finally get to work on the proposals to use Council buildings to provide more homeless shelters. However it should not have taken 10 months to get this far and I’m concerned that the Council doesn’t seem to be treating the issue with the urgency it requires. We need to make sure at the very least that this new shelter is open before the beginning of December and that this winter no one has to sleep rough against their will. With many vacant buildings still dotted around the city whilst people are forced to sleep in doorways we must push to put vacant premises to good use.”

Councillor David Gibson, spokesperson for the Greens on the Council’s Housing Committee, said:

“After our original proposals received so much support, progress on a Council building being used as a new shelter is very welcome. We still need to ensure new shelters remain open through the winter and beyond. The number of people rough sleeping is rising, with 144 counted last year.  There is simply not enough ‘move-on’ housing – leaving people stuck in hostels or on the streets. Rough sleepers are currently waiting an average of 3 months for a hostel place, which is unacceptable. To truly tackle this we also need longer term solutions that address the causes of homelessness –bringing down unaffordable private sector rents and building more truly affordable social housing. Greens will continue to campaign for this change.”
 
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