On the closing of Brighton’s winter shelter

(Extracts from this post appeared in an article in the Brighton Argus on 10th March in a feature on the winter shelter)

The City Council’s winter shelter closes this weekend. Compared to the lack of action, and an apparent lack of concern, in neighbouring areas like Eastbourne and Rother, Brighton and Hove City Council should be applauded for this and other initiatives.

Rough sleeping numbers have quadrupled in Eastbourne in the last two years, yet nothing is being done there to accommodate rough sleepers.

Nationally, the number of rough sleepers has doubled since 2010.  The government has promised to end rough sleeping by 2027.  A task force was announced last year to take this work forward.  But such is the apparent importance of this work, this task force has just met for the first time – last Wednesday!

For as long as the nation fails to provide the housing needed, we will need a range of provision for rough sleepers, from emergency shelters when there is an immediate risk to life in severe weather, to winter shelters and hostel accommodation.

I don’t go with the idea that services for homeless people act as a ‘pull’ for others to come to the city.  People come because of the reputation of the city for the drug and party scene, because it is the LGBT capital of the UK, because of the universities, and because other places are a dump!  I have never heard anyone say they came to Brighton because of the excellent services.

I would be concerned if an open-ended commitment was made that anyone arriving in Brighton will be accommodated.  That would provide licence for local authorities across the south east, Eastbourne and Rother included, to abrogate their responsibilities by providing all rough sleepers in their area with travel warrants to Brighton.

Brighton and Hove is full and the housing is increasingly unaffordable.  We need to discourage people coming to the city seeking accommodation.  Their hopes and aspirations will not be achieved here.

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