In the most challenging of circumstances the number of rough sleepers in Hastings has been slashed with fewer than ten people sleeping rough around the town on any single night.
There are an additional 40 or so former rough sleepers in emergency accommodation as plans are developed for how to move them on in to more permanent accommodation
Andrew Palmer Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) Assistant Director Housing and Built Environment told members of the council’s cabinet on Monday night the council had made ‘good progress’ in the last year.
Mr Palmer was also outlining plans for the coming year, he said the approach that has been taken under the rough sleepers initiative is seen as an ‘exemplary’ one with HBC acting as the lead authority in East Sussex working alongside other councils and those with backgrounds in health, mental health and social care.
Michael Courts Housing renewal manager said there was a need to increase the number of units available for people who need a high level of support after they come in off the streets, he explained that discussions were taking place with Homes England on how to do that: “We want to support people to be able to leave the streets for good and continue to progress and develop,” he said.
Council leader Kim Forward described what was happening was ‘fantastic work’.
Councillor Andy Batsford HBC’s lead member for Housing and Homelessness said a lot of the success was down to the ‘really important’ foundations that had been laid by the council which always believed that working with rough sleepers was the right thing to do.
“If you are able to be funded properly and given the opportunity to put ideas into practise with hard cash behind it, its amazing what you can do.
“The fact we have over 40 entrenched rough sleepers now accepting help, living in safe accommodation, wrapped around with mental health workers and housing officers and nurses is a fantastic model about how you need to be working with people who have such complex and complicated lives,” Mr Batsford told the meeting.
He also sounded a note of caution saying he is concerned about what might happen when some of the support packages that have been put in place during the pandemic start to be unwound and he told members that building affordable homes across the town was the only way the council could avert a housing crisis in the future as much of the accommodation that was available locally was simply too expensive.