Reducing homelessness in Brighton & Hove

We’re continuing to make progress towards reducing the number of people homeless and sleeping rough in the city.

A report to the housing committee on 16 March outlines how the post-pandemic return of focussing on prevention and reconnection is having an impact to help people avoid becoming homeless. 

Significant progress has been also made with the number of people needing emergency accommodation, with placements down from 160 in July 2021 to 42 in January 2022. 

This has helped reduce numbers in the city’s emergency accommodation from a high of 817 in May last year to 653 at the beginning of March.  

While we always try to accommodate people in Brighton & Hove, like many other councils, we do have to use emergency short term accommodation outside the area due to the capacity within the city.

Following the urgent need for additional emergency accommodation to support people during Covid, we did have to increase the number of people accommodated outside the city.

We’ve worked hard to identify additional accommodation within the city and, with the refocus back to prevention, we’ve now been able to return to pre-pandemic levels of people placed out of borough, with 142 people on 4 March 2022. 

We are continuing to support people in emergency accommodation provided through Covid to move into more sustainable long-term accommodation.

As of 27 February, we’d reduced the numbers of people in the Covid emergency accommodation to 50. Through the pandemic, we’ve been successful in supporting nearly 800 of the additional households accommodated during to move on. 

Support for people sleeping rough

Over the last few years, we’ve expanded the accommodation and support for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough. The number of people rough sleeping in Brighton & Hove has reduced significantly since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic. 

The 2021 annual rough sleeping count that took place in November recorded 37 people bedding down in the city. The annual counts take place nationally to find out how many people are rough sleeping around the country. 

The government Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities requires local authorities to supply this information each year. The national count figures for 2021 were released by DLUHC on Thursday 24 February 2022.

In Brighton & Hove, the count took place overnight on Tuesday 2 into Wednesday 3 November 2021.

In late January 2022, the council carried out the latest of regular local street counts and found 9 people sleeping rough in the city - the same as the number recorded in January 2021.

Street counts are undertaken in the city every couple of months to build information about the local situation throughout the year so the right support can be offered. 

The November figure of 37 people was verified by independent organisation Homeless Link. This shows a fall from 88 people in 2019, down by 51 (58%).

The count pools one night of research undertaken across the city by teams of outreach workers and volunteers working together to make a record of people bedded down in the city after midnight and through the early hours.  

A full count took place in 2021, as it did in 2019. In 2020 due to lockdown, a smaller count was combined with an estimate made by frontline rough sleeper services. The official, independently verified figure for 2020 was 27, lower than both 2019 and 2021 counts.  

In November 2020 Brighton & Hove City Council was still operating a policy of ‘Everyone In’, which meant all rough were offered accommodation sleepers regardless of statutory duty or eligibility. This ended at a national level on 30 September 2020 but was continued locally until 7 July 2021.  

Preventing homelessness

If you are threatened with homelessness, please contact us to get advice as soon as possible. We can support you with any problems making it difficult to stay in your home.

The homeless prevention and housing options support we provide includes action to prevent applicants from becoming homeless, help to keep or secure accommodation and a personalised housing plan.

In line with the national government’s stated aim to end rough sleeping by 2027, our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy reflects the three ‘pillars’ of the national strategy - prevention, intervention and recovery.

We’ve invested in services to help people who are rough sleeping or at risk of homelessness. Funding is derived from core council budget, the government’s Rough Sleeping Initiatives and additional temporary ‘Everyone In’ and ‘Protect and Vaccinate’ programmes.  

Support services have helped more than 647 people sleeping rough in Brighton & Hove in the past year.

We also fund a total of 961 bed spaces in the city for single homeless people and rough sleepers. Services include:

  • 75 spaces at hubs and night shelters throughout the year (these include Off Street Offer and No Second Night Out)
  • 42 spaces available to vulnerable rough sleepers, including those with no recourse to public funds, until 31 March 2022 under ‘Protect and Vaccinate’
  • The Severe Weather Provision shelter is open to all through the winter when temperature drops to ‘feels like’ 0 degrees or in response to an Amber Weather Warning 
  • 469 units of supported accommodation for adults including 30 units in female-only accommodation
  • 145 units of supported accommodation for young single people and young parents
  • 122 units of mental health supported accommodation 
  • 6 hospital step-down beds for homeless clients being discharged from hospital
  • We are in the process of increasing Housing First stock to 90 units of housing led support for entrenched rough sleepers

The council was awarded £3.3 million in 2020 from the national government Rough Sleeper Initiative, and we’re in the process of preparing a bid for the next 3 years of Rough Sleeper Initiative funding.

Working to reduce homelessness

Councillor David Gibson, co-chair of the Housing Committee, said: “It’s been a huge task to provide the extra support and accommodation throughout the peak of the pandemic. It is vital that we seize this window of opportunity to make a real and sustainable reduction in homelessness over the next year.

“Preventing homelessness is the key. It’s really positive to see the impact that service is having on reducing the amount of people who need emergency accommodation. 

“With the cost of living crisis and the lifting of the ban on evictions, we are really worried that more people may lose their homes

“We’re calling for both tenants and landlords to get in touch with us before any issues with a tenancy reach a crisis point.

“We recognise that Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions are a major cause of homelessness and support all campaigns to end section 21, including the ‘End Unfair Evictions’ campaign. 

“We urge all landlords to take their responsibilities as housing providers seriously and support our commitment to ending homelessness and refrain from serving eviction notices when possible. 

“Instead, landlords should contact the council's early intervention team, using the email, to resolve any tenancy issues before serving their tenant an eviction notice. 

“We also support tenants' right to union representation and welcome the good work of community and renters’ unions who can provide vital support for tenants in the city. We encourage them to work with the council on resolving tenants’ problems and avoiding homelessness. 

“We encourage all Brighton & Hove landlords to recognise the rights of their tenants to representation in resolving tenancy disputes.”

Councillor Gill Williams, the opposition lead for housing, said: “I’m really pleased to see the progress on our shared priority of ending the need for anyone to sleep rough in the city. 

“The extra funding secured and additional support is now starting to make a real difference.”

Concerned about someone sleeping rough?

If you’re concerned about anyone sleeping rough in the city, including people staying in tents, please let us know by reporting through the Streetlink website or by calling 0300 500 0914. 

Our street outreach team will then contact them to try to offer them appropriate support and housing assistance.

It’s important that anyone sleeping rough is offered help as soon as possible and that the assistance offered meets their needs, so accommodation for people on the streets is provided through referrals from organisations who understand what’s available and what support is needed. 

Reporting where people are through Streetlink is the best way of making sure that people get the support they need. This route has helps us support people still sleeping on the streets into emergency accommodation.

Make Change Count

If you’d like to support the charities and organisations across Brighton & Hove working with people to help them find a permanent solution to their homelessness, please donate to Make Change Count.

The Make Change Count campaign links local organisations experienced in supporting rough sleepers and preventing homelessness. 

These organisations, like many in the city, are currently working during the Covid crisis to provide connections into services and help people meet their basic needs.

Many thanks to everyone who’s donated so far. Our current fundraising effort closes on 31 March and we’re some way short of our target, so if you’re considering giving  to a homeless charity this month, please donate to Make Change Count.

Find out more

Read the full homelessness and rough sleeping update report to Housing Committee on 16 March 2022 (agenda item 68).

Related news