Rough sleepers to be housed in Brighton student halls

Brighton and Hove City Council expects to move up to 222 homeless people into university rooms

Councils across the country have been told to house all rough sleepers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With many in Brighton currently being housed in hotels and guest homes, Brighton and Hove City Council is preparing to move up to 222 people into alternative accommodation as hotels prepare to reopen for guests when lockdown is lifted.

Many are expected to stay at the new Circus Street student halls, which have 200 rooms, as well as Brighton University’s Phoenix Brewery halls, which have 298 rooms.

A report stated that the bill for housing up to 400 people who were homeless during lockdown would be £2.4 million by the end of next month, and by early September this is expected to rise to £3.9 million. University halls are expected to be cheaper than the average £32 a night being paid at the moment.

At Circus Street, students pay £205 a week for a single room, which amounts to £8200 a year with a 40 week tenancy. At the Phoenix Brewery, students pay £157 a week – just over £6,000 a year.

The councils’ plan was approved yesterday (Thursday 14th May).

A more permanent solution is needed to keep people off Brighton’s street permanently, as the rooms will be vacated for students for the next academic year. The council hopes the current situation will allow as many as possible to move into more permanent housing.

Brighton councillor Steve Bell said: “We have a lot of people on our housing waiting list and a lot of people in temporary and emergency accommodation. We must not let down these people in our city on the waiting list.”

Green leader Phélim Mac Cafferty stated that it is key most rough sleepers are housed and kept off the streets by September.

Labour councillor Nancy Platts gave her views: “This needs to be addressed by the government. No local authority leader wants to be putting people back on the streets when this crisis is over.”

Furthermore, a report has stated “Councils can claim up to £66,000 towards the cost of housing rough sleepers” given the cost of housing people, this isn’t enough.

Ministers have also said that they would give councils a further £76 million to support victims of domestic violence, children in need and rough sleepers. Yet the council is unaware of how much of this money it will receive.

More details of long term plans to house rough sleepers are due to be discussed at a meeting in July.