Eastbourne council ‘working hard’ to reduce rate of child homelessness

Eastbourne Town Hall
Eastbourne Town Hall

Research by housing charity Shelter revealed Eastbourne’s rate of child homelessness is up 800 per cent in five years.

The charity said 117 children in Eastbourne are classed as homeless, which is up 800 per cent since 2013.

Eastbourne is one of the top 20 towns in the south east for child homelessness, where one child in every 170 is living in temporary accommodation.

Related stories: Thousands of children in Sussex will be homeless this Christmas

Eastbourne Borough Council said the rising level of homelessness is a national issue, but that seaside towns had been ‘disproportionately affected’.

The research, which was released as part of Shelter’s Christmas appeal, showed across south east there are more than 11,300 homeless children.

In response to the research, Eastbourne Borough Council said: “Eastbourne Borough Council is working hard to reduce the number of families in temporary accommodation.

“Temporary accommodation is provided as a last resort when we are unable to prevent homeless applicants from losing their existing accommodation.

“The rise in levels of homelessness is a national issue, which has disproportionately affected a number of seaside towns over the past few years.

“Eastbourne Borough Council is working closely with the other East Sussex housing authorities to continue to maximise opportunities to prevent homelessness, and we are committed to continuous improvement in the housing options service we deliver. This includes working with homeless applicants to explore all of the issues that may have contributed towards their home being at risk, such as resolving benefit queries, managing debt/affordability issues, and referring on to specialist agencies to address various support needs.

“We are working hard to address the shortage of affordable housing and we recently launched our Landlord Reward Scheme which offers significant financial incentives to private sector landlords to increase the number of private properties available to rent for homeless applicants. We now have an employment and housing coordinator in post, specifically to maximise employment opportunities for our clients, which will in turn give them access to a wider range of housing solutions.

“Furthermore we recently received significant grant funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) towards a joint project with Hastings Borough Council, and hope to expand on this with joint bids for additional grant funding which will be targeted at supporting families into private rented accommodation.”

Other six towns and cities on the top 20 list for child homelessness were Brighton and Hove, Crawley, Lewes, Adur and Shoreham.

Shelter warned that hundreds of children in the region will spend their Christmas in a hostel or BnB, often with one family in a single room, sharing bathrooms and kitchens with other residents.

Greg Beales, director of campaigns at Shelter, said: “No child should be homeless. But for the generation growing up in the housing crisis, this is the grim reality for many.

“The number of children hidden away in hostels and BnBs is enough to make anyone’s heart sink. These are not places for children. We hear about cold, damp – even rats. Young children are sharing beds with multiple family members, trying to play in dirty public corridors, and having to leave their block in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

“Over the last five years, hundreds of thousands of children have known what it’s like to be homeless. The impact these young people cannot be overstated. It doesn’t have to be this way. If we act now, we can change tomorrow to make sure every child has somewhere they can call home.”

To support Shelter’s Christmas appeal, text SHELTER to 70020 to donate £3, or visit: www.shelter.org.uk