Homelessness in Eastbourne quadruples in two years

A homeless man in Eastbourne's Terminus Road (Photo by Jon Rigby)
A homeless man in Eastbourne's Terminus Road (Photo by Jon Rigby)

The number of homeless people in Eastbourne has more than quadrupled in two years, new figures reveal.

A government report says there were around 41 people living on the streets in autumn 2017 – compared to 10 in 2015. Of these, 36 were men and five women.

The figures, gathered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, show homelessness in the town has been rising quickly, with 19 sleeping rough in 2016.

This reflects a wider trend of homelessness increasing in coastal communities in Sussex. The study, released at the end of last month, shows nearby Hastings had 16 rough sleepers in 2015 and now has around 40.

Perhaps the most dramatic increase though is in Brighton, which has risen by 100 people since 2015 to 178.

However, these figures may be conservative, as a report by Shelter last November in fact recorded 291 people as homeless in Eastbourne (read more here).

Responding to the new government figures, Eastbourne Borough Council said the town’s proximity to Brighton was one of the factors which has led to an increase in rough sleepers here.

A spokesperson said, “We know from national figures that rough sleeping in the UK has increased significantly over the last three years and is often a very challenging and complex issue to address, particularly when some people choose to sleep rough rather than access assistance and housing.

“South coast towns have seen a particularly large increase. It is probable that our proximity to Brighton is a factor in the number of rough sleepers in Eastbourne.

“In response to this the council has introduced a monthly drop-in service for rough sleepers to access a range of housing and support services in one place.

“This holistic approach is considered more effective than asking individuals to attend a range of appointments in different locations and has resulted in positive outcomes around health and housing.

“This model is being strengthened as a result of a project for which Eastbourne has successfully secured government funding.

“The rough sleeping prevention project is a partnership with other local authorities and aims to assist single people who are at imminent risk of rough sleeping or who have been found to be new to rough sleeping.

“Once the individuals are identified they are supported by a bespoke service that can offer targeted and personalised interventions to secure housing. If necessary, emergency accommodation can be provided whilst more suitable accommodation is secured.”

A winter night shelter is available throughout the coldest months for homeless people in Eastbourne to seek shelter.

To find out more, call 07932 407730 or drop in at Christ Church, Seaside, between 1pm-3pm on Monday-Friday.

Other services available to vulnerable people in town include the Matthew 25 Mission, Eastbourne Foodbank, the Salvation Army, Warming Up The Homeless, and Fatfleshed Ministries.