Hastings Borough Council is the lead partner amongst councils in East Sussex in a successful joint funding bid from the government’s Next Steps Accommodation Project to minimise the number of rough sleepers returning to the streets.

The Next Steps Accommodation Programme, set to run until the end of March 2021, includes funding for short term measures to reduce the number of  rough sleepers, accommodated during the lockdown from returning to the streets; it also includes capital funding to increase the amount of accommodation available.

The government has confirmed an award of £964,300 and HBC is awaiting an announcement of their own share of the money. As a result, the Cabinet has approved the mobilisation of the Next Steps Accommodation Programme.

Cllr Andy Batsford experiencing an evening of homelessness

Cllr Andy Batsford, lead councillor for Housing and Homelessness, explained that the council responded effectively to the government’s ‘Everyone In’ instruction at the beginning of lockdown to get rough sleepers off the streets.As a result there are higher numbers in temporary accommodation and accessing the support than the council planned for. “As a council, we place huge importance on doing what we can to ensure everyone has a safe place to stay and have their needs met. This bid was due to the nimble efforts of officers and their hard work and determination to do all they can for those in our town who really need our help and support.” 

He went on to point out that this bid, “will go some way to assist us to continue to fund these placements and support, so the money is welcome.” He continued, “We must and will continue to make the most of any and all opportunities for funding in this and many other areas.”

Cllr Batsford confirmed that there are currently 39 former
rough sleepers in temporary accommodation in the town with around 15 people still rough sleeping. “Our successful bid for revenue funding will allow the council to continue to provide temporary accommodation and increase the support we offer to help people to find a longer-term home.” 

He explained that there will be a particular problem this winter as it won’t be possible to open night shelters due to Covid-19: “This money will also help us provide temporary accommodation for rough sleepers over these hard months.”

Work also continues in partnership with Public Health, the Clinical Commissioning Group and the voluntary sector to improve the physical and mental health of rough sleepers – as well as substance dependency support – through the Rough Sleeping Initiative. And longer term: “We have bid to create 30 new ‘Housing First’ units across East Sussex, 10 of which will be in Hastings. Housing First is an internationally recognised method of providing accommodation with a high level of ongoing support.”

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