This is the text of my open letter to all Brighton and Hove City Councillors calling on them to eradicate, as far as is possible, the scourge of street homelessness in the City. The letter was first published in the Brighton Argus on 13th May 2015.
Congratulations on your election or re-election. Having previously experienced the sweetness of electoral success, I know that the expectations and demands of being a councillor can be all-consuming and, at times, exhausting. You will face unjustified criticism, and you will rarely get the recognition and praise you deserve.
You will also be required to make decisions that few of us would wish to make, how to prioritise reducing resources, who to disappoint, who will go without.
As you settle into your new role, portfolio and committees, not to mention unrelenting constituency work, I ask you to remember those who did not feature high in the campaign: homeless men and women.
One of the greatest challenges facing Brighton and Hove is the number of people sleeping on our streets. The average life expectancy of a homeless man is 47 years, a homeless woman just 43 years.
In one of the wealthiest cities in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, this situation is unacceptable. It is not good for the economy of the city. It is not good for each of us as citizens to live alongside such obvious poverty. And most of all, it is not good for the homeless men and women themselves.
Together, the City Council, the police, the charity sector, churches and community groups, we can make a difference. By 2019, a sign of our joint success will be to have eradicated, as far as is possible, the scourge of street homelessness in Brighton and Hove.
Brighton Housing Trust