We know that affordability is a major factor for the city. The impact of this is felt particularly by those who live in the private rented sector, or who are ready to exit supported accommodation.
Where the council cannot intervene directly in the private rented sector we wish to support positive engagement with local private landlord associations and landlords to prevent homelessness and insecurity of accommodation and promote more long-term affordable private rented sector homes.
In addition, it is important to identify interventions that can help offset these impacts to support people to move into more stable accommodation.
Findings from the review of homelessness showed that the gap between the average rent and Local Housing Allowance (LHA) expanded, to £771 per month between the average rent in Brighton & Hove and the LHA.
The average annual rent inflation is higher than the Retail Price Index (RPI) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all bedroom categories.
The result of this is that Brighton & Hove became increasingly unaffordable for a significant percentage of the population, especially those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Recent changes to the LHA rate came into force from 1 April. Early indications show that affordability of accommodation in the private sector has improved slightly within the city.
The accommodation outside of the city that falls within the same LHA rate has shown an increased improvement, albeit with less properties to rent.
It is not known currently what effect, if any, the increase LHA rates will have on rents in the area.
Rough sleeping in Brighton & Hove has been increasing since 2010 with over 800 rough sleepers found in the city over a 2-year period. In November 2019 the official street count of rough sleepers on one night was 88.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic there is an accommodation offer to all rough sleepers, so we are in the unique position where no-one needs to sleep rough during the pandemic.
We have accommodated around 400 people and we are working with all of them to develop personal housing plans and accommodation pathways to prevent a return to rough sleeping.
Following the pandemic accommodation with shared sleeping spaces may no longer be acceptable, in response we are also changing the model of provision so that we do not have congregate accommodation.
This group of people do not appear in official statistics and it is therefore difficult to quantify this issue.
Polling conducted by ComRes, in 2017, suggests that two-fifths of 16 to 25 year-olds in the UK have sofa-surfed at one time because they had nowhere to live. One in ten of these young people did so for more than a month in total.
Crisis Homeless Monitor estimate that the number of hidden homeless nationally has risen since 2008 by one third.
It is believed that the tight housing market and the worsening real income/living standards are key drivers to homelessness in this group.
It is known that the Hidden Homelessness can be in a dangerous position leaving people at risk of abuse, assault and exploitation.
There are currently 17,910 social rented properties in the city. Council housing stock has fallen by 778 properties since 2011 but the council remains the largest landlord.
There are just under 10,000 households on the council waiting list for social housing. However, in 2018 to 2019 only 787 properties became available to let, half of which were one bedroom flats or studio.
This means that as demand is much higher than supply that there will be a long waiting times for many households.
Providing additional affordable homes is a key priority in our Housing Committee Work plan 2019 to 2023 approved by Committee in September 2019, including developing 800 additional council homes and 700 other new homes.
The number of households in temporary accommodation, who are owed either a full housing duty or a duty owed under the Children’s Act or Adult Social Care legislation that require accommodation remain high.
Under the council’s allocations policy, 40% of available properties are prioritised to accepted homeless households, and 10% to the council’s Interest Queue (which cover Children’s Act and Adult Social Care requirements).
Homeless acceptances fell in 2018 to 2019 to 283 as a result of the positive prevention work we undertook.
While 314 social tenancies were allocated to those accepted homeless, this will have a small positive impact on the number of households in temporary accommodation, which at May 2020 is 1,711.
As a city we need to increase prevention and reduce the number of accepted households still further or develop more options for moving people in to the private rented sector.
Multiple and compound needs and rough sleeping
We know that over a quarter of people sleeping rough in Brighton & Hove have multiple and compound needs. This means that they may experience several overlapping problems at the same time, such as mental ill health, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, offending and family breakdown.
This group of people require greater levels of support to find a route off the streets, and can struggle to engage with services including Health and Adult Social Care, and Substance Misuse Services.
Brighton & Hove commission almost 690+ units of supported housing through a series of pathways. However, many people find it hard to move on when they are ready to live independently due to the shortage of available of social housing or access to private rented homes.
Additionally, there is a lack of accommodation for those needing enhanced services such as those impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Mental Health, Substance Use, and Learning Disabilities.
Following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic some of the supported housing delivery will need to be reconsidered.
This is a good opportunity to work with all people who were sleeping rough or about to sleep rough and to develop an alternative model going forwards taking into account the impact of COVID-19 for accommodation with shared facilities.
The COVID-19 crisis response has also provided an opportunity to consider the long- term solution to homelessness and to work with government to seek additional resources to enable this.
It includes the expansion of the Housing First model, to give people with high need the best chance to sustain secure accommodation; expanding access to private rented accommodation.
Expanding the capital grant programme to purchase more accommodation and supporting reconnection, where it is safe to do so by a national response so local authorities have adequate provision to for people who would otherwise be rough sleeping in their area.