What I am particularly pleased about is the very highest importance given to the issue of housing and homelessness. In total, there are 22 recommendations for actions by the City Council, housing associations, developers and others.
The report states: “The critical shortage of affordable and decent housing in Brighton and Hove is a major driver of inequality, seen at its most extreme in the visible and growing number of street homeless men and women. Buying and renting a home is beyond the means of many local people on low and modest incomes, not least the sons and daughters of the city seeking to set up a home for the first time”.
Amongst the recommendations are:
- The council should offer council-owned and other publicly owned land, including sites on the city fringes and brown field sites, to mechanisms such as housing co-operatives, self-build groups and community land trusts to develop affordable social housing with the guarantee it will go to local people.
- As part of the wider drive to tackle homelessness in the city, partners should create low-cost and “meanwhile” housing swiftly, on dormant development sites, like Preston Barracks, using converted sea containers, or similar, that can be moved to other sites when development starts.
- Establish an ethical lettings agency for private rented housing similar to “Let to Birmingham” which offers “a range of services for landlords including Let Only or Full Property Management, and matching with suitable tenants.”
- Develop and publish an action plan to ensure full implementation of the new housing strategy and report back regularly on progress.
I think that to the city as a whole has a debt of thanks to the 12 Commissioners and the staff who supported them for their work, and also to the City Council who initiated this brave review. The Commissioners have done what they can. Now it’s down to councillors, council officers, the NHS, housing associations, the Universities, private developers and others to make sure that the vision set out in the report becomes a reality and that greater fairness is achieved in this wonderful city.