Eastbourne now has the ninth highest rate of rough sleeping in the country and homelessless is the ‘shame of the town’, according to the boss of a local charity.
Andy Winter, chief executive of Brighton Housing Trust Sussex, said this week, “The worsening situation for rough sleepers in Eastbourne has become far more obvious in recent times.
“Government figures show that Eastbourne now has the ninth highest rate of rough sleeping in the country.
“In February, the Eastbourne Herald reported that the number of rough sleepers has quadrupled in the past two years.
“It is not due to the proximity to Brighton, as claimed by a spokesperson from Eastbourne Borough Council. Rather it is due to the absence of emergency accommodation in the town.
“In the freezing weather an emergency shelter was opened to preserve life. While this is to be welcomed, it is the bare minimum.
“An affluent town like Eastbourne should make sure that there is no reason for anyone to sleep on the streets.
“It is not good for the reputation of the town and it is certainly not good for those sleeping on the streets.
“A national spotlight was shone on Eastbourne recently when BBC News ran an item about the fear that homeless people have about sleeping rough.
“Rough sleeping is fast becoming the shame of Eastbourne.”
The Herald ran a story last month revealing that the number of homeless people in Eastbourne had more than quadrupled in two years.
A government report said 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.
A spokesperson for Eastbourne Borough Council 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.
“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.
“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.”