Brighton and Hove City Council have today unveiled ambitious plans to tackle homelessness in the area by housing residents in vacant buildings.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Danielle Stewart, the leader of the Labour councillors, announced that a deal had been struck with the Greens that would see a united effort to combat the issue of homelessness in Brighton and Hove.
“Both the Labour councillors and the Green councillors have agreed to urgent action to put an end to homelessness in Brighton and Hove”, she said. “By working together, we will ensure that every one of the local residents has a roof over their head at night.”
Stewart, who spoke alongside Green councillor Stephen Hardcastle, has long campaigned for more to be done on the issue of homelessness both locally and nationally. Now that a Labour-Green alliance has been formed in the City Council she believes the situation will improve rapidly.
“It is clear that Conservative austerity policies have driven many more people on to the city’s streets”, she said. “Unlike the government, we can’t turn our back on these people”.
The ambitious scheme, known locally as BHBH – Brighton and Hove Beat Homelessness – is set to take advantage of a number of long vacant properties to house the city’s homeless. If a building lies vacant for more than 250 days of the year, the Council will now have the power to use its space for their BHBH scheme.
Stephen Hardcastle, the leader of the Green councillors, explained: “Both in Brighton and in Hove there are a number of empty properties that are able to shelter those in need of housing. Our aim is to utilise these vacant buildings and provide housing for those that lack it”.
Though the plan has seen a united Labour-Green front, there are still those within the City Council who are opposed to its implementation.
The 20 Conservative councillors, led by Margaret Hunter-Moore, have all refused to support the scheme, labelling it “an attack on private property and private enterprise”.
Though she did not speak at the press conference, Hunter-Moore released a statement in which she and her colleagues expressed “a strong feeling of discomfort” with the scheme and echoed the words of Prime Minister David Cameron by saying that they needed to focus more on the economy.
“Taking control of private property is not the solution to this crisis. The issue of homelessness can only be tackled by long-term economic success.”
Despite Conservative disapproval, the scheme has been met with huge public support locally.
Mehdi Osam, a local shop owner, said: “I think this is fantastic news. It is about time the Council did something about the homeless people in the city”.
“There are so many empty buildings around, nobody should have to sleep on street corners and in shop fronts”, he continued.
Local charities The Clock Tower Sanctuary and Off The Fence, and national charities Shelter and Crisis have all welcomed the move by Brighton and Hove City Council to combat homelessness in the city, encouraging other City Councils to implement similar schemes.
Across the UK the numbers of homeless people has risen dramatically in the last five years. Government statistics show a 55% rise in rough sleeping from 2010 to 2014, with London having more than double the amount of rough sleepers in 2014 than it did in 2009.
Brighton faces a similar situation with ITV reporting that “rough sleeping figures in Brighton and Hove almost doubled over 5 years”.
In 2011 there were 445 properties in Brighton and Hove that were empty for more than six-months.
*Names and events in this article are fictional. Any resemblance to real life figures is purely coincidental. Brighton and Hove City Council have not agreed to eradicate homelessness in the city and the news article above is taken from a parallel universe in which they have. I repeat, the above story is unfortunately a fiction.
I took a bit of flack (see comments) for writing this fictional news article, but a few weeks after publishing it, the writings were justified with the news that Manchester City Council were to enact exactly what I proscribed. My article may have been a fiction, but it was a glimpse into what is possible, Manchester City Council have made it a reality and they deserve tremendous praise.
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5 thoughts on “Labour and Green Unite to End Homelessness in Brighton and Hove”
This is stupid and annoying. Why make this shit up? There is enough actual evil that the Torys are responsible for to shout about. You’re a twat.
Homeless people are under the oppressive condition however the government can’t just sacrifice them but it can punish them. That is, Hackney Council’s new “Public Space Protection Orders” proposal pretended to give police and council officers the power to ban “anti-social” activities such as sleeping rough or begging. Those who breached an order could be issued with a £100 fixed penalty notice or a fine of £1,000. It is an utter imposition of the local council’s power over those under severe oppression and distress. In addition, Manchester council are seeking a city centre-wide injunction against the campaigners, which would ban the group from entering, sleeping or setting up tents in the city centre. The protesters, who have called their campaign the Manchester Rights of Justice Protest, have been camping for two months at various locations in the city claiming that the council is not making sufficient efforts to house the city’s homeless population. The homeless people’s suffering belongs to the state under a game over the right of its marginalised group being transformed into citizens merely for punishment and humiliation. The Public Space Protection Orders is a penalty over one’s condition suffering – it is a fine over the disempowered for being disempowered. This act allows power to fragment the homeless into sub-humans punishable for the state of utter misery. Thus, such attempt to a policy such as The Public Space Protection Orders can be seen as something that will make life in overall restored and cleaner as it is seemly acting under the justification of punishing the oppressed under a political instrument. The homeless people are being reduced to – less than the bare – under a state’s restriction over their life to be in certain places. Furthermore, it is a lazy, uninformed and violent way to simplify such complex issue.
Homelessness in the UK is sometimes directly linked to people sleeping rough. In 2013, 112,070 people declared themselves homeless in England. This is a 26% increase in four years. The number of people sleeping rough in London grew by 75% to a 6,437 in 2013. However, those people sleeping rough are only a partial representation of the problem of those without secure accommodation. That is, there are also some people that are staying in emergency hostels, there are refugees and there are people that are not sleeping rough but do not have any permanent accommodation such as people staying temporarily with friends, squatting or as part of a travellers community. There are a wide variety of reasons why people become homeless such as, relationship break down, domestic violence and substance misuse, people that are released from prison, people that are released from psychiatric institutions, people in debt, children that are institutionalised as asylum seekers and refugees. Therefore, homelessness in the UK goes beyond those people living on the streets and it has much more complex structural roots and it should not be used a mean of punishment as the Hackney Council’s new “Public Space Protection Orders” attempted. Meanwhile, In a single-day survey in 2011, the homeless population of Finland was 7,572. Since the 1980s, there has been a 50% reduction in the number of homeless people across Finland. There have been particular decreases in the number of long-term homeless people as a result of the national homelessness strategy. That is, in Finland there is a strategy to prevent homelessness. To end homelessness there must be a clear path to give people access to homes – There must be a clear strategy which isn’t based on class war, social cleansing, punishment and humiliation of those under severe oppression.
Given that, this administration of human suffering can only be achieved through strict management of disciplinary acts such the Hackney Council’s new “Public Space Protection Orders” attempted. Are not the homeless oppressed enough? The Hackney Council should not punish people over their miseries. Arguably, there is a control of activity, there is a control over the bureaucracy for homeless people to access medical care and there is a control how homeless people access housing. There is a controlled suffering and now a ‘tax’ over that suffering. This act is demonstrating that some people and groups are in practical terms seen to have less right to life and even the bare life. Arguably, the current seemly unconnected series of policy such as “Public Space Protection Orders” towards homeless people are reducing them to sub-humans with a validation stamp by the state. That is a design of human suffering and a mocking of human distress and this is a violent attempt of normalisation of human suffering. If the system doesn’t allow a space for critical reflection of its oppressive means that system needs to be challenged. Is this the best policy for the homeless there in offer?
I’m struggling to figure out the authors motivations and reasons for writing this, if it’s an attempt at satire, it’s a massive failure.
I think this will be a great idea, as a Brightonian,