‘Incredibly important’ strategy tackles homelessness

Cabinet councillors at Lewes District Council have agreed a new strategy to address homelessness in the district. 

Reducing homelessness and ending rough sleeping is a top priority for the council and the strategy sets out how to achieve this goal over the next five years.

The plan is focused on preventing homelessness by intervening effectively when it occurs and putting in place solutions that support the most sustainable re-housing options.

The development of the strategy included a review of the current demand and issues being managed by the council’s housing needs team.  This work identified a 23% increase in related enquiries to the council’s housing needs team.

Councillor William Meyer, Cabinet Member for Housing, said:

“While we have very low numbers of rough sleepers in the district compared to several neighbouring councils, this is an incredibly important piece of work for us that I hope as many people as possible take the time to read, to better understand the complexity of the challenges involved in tackling these issues.”

The number of rough sleepers in Lewes District has been consistently low, with the government’s annual count registering numbers in single figures for each of the past five years.  There are a small number of hard to engage rough sleepers that services struggle to connect with and to address this, the new strategy will bolster the commitment to support local voluntary agencies working with this group.

The review also recognised the continuing impact of high house prices, with Lewes now having the highest average of the five districts and boroughs in East Sussex. Prices now average over ten times the average local salary.  These inflated prices have a knock-on impact on rents, restricting the access that those on low incomes have to both home ownership and private rented markets and contributing to increasing level of homelessness across the district.

Councillor Meyer added: “The strategy includes a host of targeted actions that our officers will be progressing over the coming months.  I’m delighted these include support for education initiatives involving young people and care leavers, the launch of a dedicated ‘prevention hub’ to coordinate our work with partners, and exploring the development of a county-wide approach to partnership working with private rented sector landlords.”

Download the Lewes District Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2022 – 2027