Through Love Activist Brighton’s autonomous actions we have got to know a lot of people living on the street. we have heard about their experiences and difficulties with getting the help and support they need. The most basic support which every human being deserves – access to shelter.
We hope that this fairness commission will hold some sway over the council with its future recommendations and so we will be frank about our proposals.
1. We don’t think it’s fair that…that people living on the streets are coerced to develop complex needs before they are able to receive help.
In May 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that when local authorities carry out vulnerability assessments, a ‘homeless person’ should be compared with an ‘ordinary person who is at risk of becoming homeless’. There is no doubt that any homeless person is ‘significantly more vulnerable’ than an ordinary person, therefore everybody living on the street should be assessed as being in priority need.
The judgement also made it clear that while councils are often under huge financial strain, this must not be used as an excuse for avoiding their legal duties. To guarantee duty of care and legal obligations are met, all local authorities must provide permanent housing for anybody living on the streets.
We hope to see this change in law properly adhered to by the council. We hope their interpretation will include those in temporary accommodation, sofa surfers, squatters, The so-called “Hidden homeless”.
2. It’s not fair that…The Housing First model is only provided for only ten people in Brighton. It should be a priority to expand it:
Some of you will know that Housing First, is a relatively recent model, an alternative to the system of emergency and temporary accommodation.
The original housing first scheme was introduced in America and has been remarkably successful in ending chronic homelessness there and in other parts of the world. Housing first pilot project had a 70% success rate in Brighton & Hove
Rather than moving homeless individuals through different “levels” of housing which can take years to get a permanent place to call home, Housing First moves the homeless individual, or household immediately from the streets into their own permanent home. They are also offered adequate support to help with any other issues. This has proven to better meet individual needs and be economically cheaper.
We want to see Housing First made available for all homeless people, with all levels of support needs, from those who only need a home to those with extremely complex emotional and physical needs.
3. We don’t consider it fair that…the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) isn’t activated immediately, in any weather which threatens rough sleepers’ health, particularly the wet.
The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) was not activated recently, leaving vulnerable people to sleep out during a severe weather warning on our streets. We are waiting to hear of the changes that have been made to make this avoidable in the future.
Last year the budget wasn’t used up for the SWEP protocol. This must mean that the emergency centres could infact be opened more often if the budget were made available. The surplus budget last year did not get carried over. We would be interested to know what happened to that surplus (and how much it was?)
If the material resources exist to provide shelter from a severe weather emergency, economic arguments against keeping the shelters open all year round are not as powerful as the humanitarian ones for opening them.
We don’t think it’s fair that…affordable social rents are not imposed on private landlords and property investors.
It’s not fair that the provision of truly affordable permanent homes is not a priority.
We want to see present and future housing projects prioritising housing for those without a home including those in emergency and temporary accommodation. Allocating enough of these properties towards the housing first project until everyone is housed.
It’s not fair that… so many buildings sit empty. It would make sense to make squatting empty properties safe and equitable for property owners and otherwise homeless people.
This would make use of empty properties, keep people safe and avoid wasting tax payers money, private money and time spent on security, policing and court costs.
We hope that you will include the solution based proposals in your final report to the council.
We hope that you will use what power you have to take this discussion to central Government. We want the council to stand up to the westminster elite on behalf of all the people who have suffered and died because of their crude, ideological war on the poor.
We want Brighton to lead the charge of rebel cities in the UK, to secede from the square mile in order to prevent this crisis worsening and more people dying.