Landlord offers building for temporary homeless shelter in Brighton and Hove

Cllr Gibson and Cllr Druitt with Simon Lambor of Matsim SUS-170802-182807001
Cllr Gibson and Cllr Druitt with Simon Lambor of Matsim SUS-170802-182807001

A commercial landlord has offered to open up one his buildings in the city providing short-term respite for the homeless.

Simon Lambor of Matsim Developers came forward after a Green Party initiative to encourage the council to open its empty buildings in the winter.

Since the idea was agreed in principle at a meeting of the Full Council on January 26, Green councillors were approached by Mr Lambor.

He had put forward Sussex House in Hollingbury - the old police offices - as a potential building for a temporary homeless shelter.

In response to the offer, housing committee members councillors Tom Druitt and David Gibson are bringing together a working group of homelessness charities, experts and volunteers to see how the use of the building can be progressed.

Latest figures revealed that Brighton and Hove now has the highest number of rough sleepers outside of London, with numbers almost double that of the previous year.

Cllr Gibson, Green spokesperson on the council’s housing committee, said: “It is so heartening that a property developer has come forward to offer a building. Every time I take a late bus home and see people in sleeping bags in doorways, I feel ashamed that the sixth richest country cannot even provide shelter for those who have slipped through the net. Although the Government is slow to react to the severity of the housing crisis, here in Brighton there is an enthusiasm for the empty buildings initiative to succeed, so let’s roll our sleeves up and get a move on before more people die on our streets.”

Cllr Druitt, who proposed the empty buildings motion, said: “In less than two weeks we’ve had offers of help from charities, donors, volunteers, therapists, fire safety specialists, council staff working in their spare time and now a property developer. We are convening a working group to establish how this can be done safely, properly and with the utmost urgency. Anyone who may be able to offer their time, expertise or any resources is encouraged to get in touch to help us get this off the ground.”