A dedicated outreach worker to engage with those living on the streets and more accommodation for rough sleepers are just two incentives which are part of a project to tackle the problem of homelessness in Eastbourne.
The strategy to reduce rough sleeping in Eastbourne and the neighbouring town of Lewes was launched last week at an event attended by around 40 people.
Both Eastbourne and Lewes councils have been working with key partners such as Sussex Police, charities, business leaders and government agencies to develop the Street Community Strategy.
The authorities say the over-arching plan is in response to a sharp increase in the number of people sleeping, drinking or begging on local streets in the last two years.
Councillor Alan Shuttleworth, Eastbourne Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing, said, “We are committed to tackling rough sleeping and this strategy reflects our determination to do that.
“We are also working closely with our partners to ensure appropriate services are accessible to members of the street community and that an effective route into settled housing is established for rough sleepers.
“Our priority is that the streets are safe for everyone.”
Under the strategy, a dedicated outreach worker has been appointed to engage with rough sleepers.
Other initiatives include expansion of accommodation for rough sleepers, the establishment of monthly multi-agency meetings and a Landlords Reward Scheme providing incentives for landlords to let their properties to the homeless through the councils.
The launch event was held at the International Lawn Tennis Centre in Eastbourne on Wednesday September 12.
The event featured speeches by Katie Dawkins, the housing needs and allocations lead at Eastbourne council, police inspector Ed Ripley, who gave an update on the work of the Multi-Agency Street Community Operations Team known as MASCOT, Becky Jackson, of the Rough Sleeper’s Initiative and Sarah Noble, from the Department for Works and Pensions.
The strategy came about after traders, residents, and the town’s MP Stephen Lloyd demanded action following an increase in the number of people sleeping in shop doorways in the town centre and aggressive begging.