We should end street homelessness in Brighton and Hove by 2020

I have never known a time like this, when people are so shocked by the number of men and women sleeping on the streets of Brighton and Hove.  People comment on this to me, donations to First Base at Christmas were at an all-time high, the Argus regularly runs stories on homelessness, and individuals have gone out of their way to offer hope.

There is a general consensus that at this time of the year there are around 115 people sleeping rough.  In the summer it rises, to around 150 last year.

These are large numbers, but not when compared to some of the major cities around the world.  Information published by the excellent London homelessness charity, Thames Reach shows how bad it is elsewhere:

City

Street homeless Year of count

General population

Ratio of rough sleepers to general population

London      742 2014 8,400,000 1 in 11,320
New York City   3,357 2014 8,406,000 1 in 2,500
Los Angeles 12,977 2011 3,858,000 1 in 297
Chicago      965 2014 2,715,000 1 in 2,813
Philadelphia      500 2012 1,548,000 1 in 3,095
Washington      679 2012    646,000 1 in 952
Boston    193 2012      636,500 1 in 3,298
Seattle 1,989 2013      634,500 1 in 319
Miami    535 2012      414,000 1 in 774
Vancouver 2,777 2014   2,400,000 1 in 864
Tokyo 1,697 2014 13,000,000 1 in 7,660
Paris * 5,000-7,000? 2013   2,250,000 1 in 375
Madrid * 2,041 2014   3,300,000 1 in 1,616
Dublin 168 2014      530,000 1 in 3,154

*Paris and Madrid do not carry out regular street counts. Estimates are provided by organisations working with homeless people in each city.

By comparison, there is a relatively small street homeless population in Brighton and Hove, although each and everyone is a real person who experiences fear at night, whose view of the world is often the legs of people walking by, who get cold and wet and hungry, and who see people going home, locking their doors, turning the lights on, and closing their curtains.  The closing of curtain, as one former rough sleeper said to me, was the clearest sign that he was out and they were in.

The challenge to politicians, as we approach the local elections, is: will you commit yourselves to ending rough sleeping in Brighton and Hove by 2020, or is your ambition merely to make rough sleeping as tolerable as possible for the rough sleepers?

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3 thoughts on “We should end street homelessness in Brighton and Hove by 2020

  1. This blogpost made me cry.

    We are uncivilised – everywhere that there are people living on the street is uncivilised and savage. Are there people without shelter in middle eastern areas, in non-war-torn African villages, towns, South America? Is this a problem of high population areas/cities and industrialised areas?

    It isn’t normal.

  2. I’d like to commit to do all that we can to end rough sleeping in Brighton and Hove by 2020 whilst recognising the very real challenges this will involve.

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