Hastings has been awarded a Government grant to help reduce rough sleeping.
Last month the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced it had awarded joint-funding of £664,000 to both Hastings and Eastbourne for a project aimed at getting rough sleepers into long-term housing.
The project will focus on working with rough sleepers to get into long-term accommodation and involves the setting up of ‘Housing First’ units, where people with the most complex needs can get shelter and one-on-one support.
The Observer is running a Hope for the Homeless campaign throughout 2018 to raise awareness about homelessness in the area - and work to combat the issue.
The funding was welcomed at a meeting of Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet on Monday (July 2), where councillors discussed details of the project.
Labour councillor Andy Batsford, the council’s lead member for housing and leisure, praised the project, particularly the use of the Housing First units.
He said: “Having worked in that sector for a long time, I know putting conditions on somebody before they even get into a home is a massive barrier to getting them on the first track of actually getting off the street and actively improving their life chances and their health chances.
“If you’ve got shelter and you’ve got somewhere secure you can start thinking of how you start addressing your drugs habits, or your alcohol, your mental health, whatever has driven you to finding yourself on the streets.
“I’m really excited about the money. [But] obviously the reason why Hastings and Eastbourne got the money is because we’ve got massive problems around street homelessness. Although I welcome the money it is a bit of a band-aid on a massive problem.
“So we want to see this as a pilot and would welcome this to be carried on long-term as well.”
The funding was also welcomed by Conservative councillor Rob Lee, who seconded the motion to officially release the funding for the project.
Cllr Lee said: “It’s a really pleasing item to have in front of us and, I think, a really good use of the additional money from the ministry. This is something that this council hasn’t been afraid to talk about recently, which is pleasing because I have been wanting to engage on this topic for some time.
“I think that this has a chance of providing better outcomes than what we do currently.
“I agree with Cllr Batsford, in that I do think this is a bit of a band-aid. It’s not a panacea, which is going to solve all social and housing problems in the Eastbourne and Hastings area, but it will help immediately.”
According to council documents, the programme will be overseen by a board made up of representatives of statutory agencies, support services providers and other key partners.
It will be responsible for running a service which works with rough sleepers to help them to access housing services around the county and to share information between local authorities.
Part of the funding will also be used to expand the The Sussex Rough Sleeping Prevention Project (SRSPP), which has been operating across the county for the past year.
The funding has been granted to Hastings Borough Council and to the merged Lewes District and Eastbourne Borough councils.