Questions and answers for members of the public
- Meeting of Communities, Housing and Environment Committee, Tuesday 15th September, 2015 6.30 pm (Item 28.)
Joan Langrick asked the following question of the Chairman:
Would the Committee be prepared to consider the following proposal?
The day we start seeing the homeless as valuable human resources is the day we start saving money. Those on housing lists or saving for a home of their own were previously working in their various capacities including ex-service personnel with strong leadership skills all looking for a hand up rather than a hand out. However, being homeless also engenders feelings of humiliation and degradation which can swiftly deteriorate into debilitating lifestyles and, saddest of all, mental health problems. These, not only cause distress to the sufferer, but treating them also costs the council a great deal of money. Add to these the massive housing cuts which will shortly apply to the eighteen to twenty one year’s old, and we have a nightmare scenario which should make us provide temporary homes as speedily as they did after the last war. The question is “How can this be achieved in a cash strapped economy?
The answer lies in recycling instead of wasting thousands of pounds chasing fly tippers and paying for vast amounts of domestic and commercial goods to be buried in precious land fill sites .The TV programmes “Amazing Spaces shed of the year” demonstrated how ordinary men and women created imaginative and weather-proof homes out of materials such as these. I suggest teams of the more motivated homeless be allocated several suitable sites, with access to all utilities, where they whilst building their own homes, out of recycled material, will quickly realise they are also rebuilding their confidence, self-esteem and so, ultimately their lives. The project would be structured, safe, renewable and appropriate to the area. Also, as these are temporary buildings the council will have no difficulty restoring these sites when their occupants move to their permanent homes. Surely helping the homeless to help themselves is a far better way of easing the vulnerable back into society rather than spending thousands of pounds on treating the addictions and mental health problems which have been created while sleeping on our pavements? I am hoping the council will look favourably on my project as it will not only be saving money but also, saving lives.
The Chairman replied that:
She had consulted Council officers on the matter and asked the Head of Housing and Community Services to make the response. It was explained that:
· Officers had visited Brighton to evaluate similar projects;
· The issue in bringing such a project forward was finding land suitable;
· A range of short-term accommodation options had been looked at but it was felt that there was no substitute for long-term accommodation;
· The Council’s goal was to deliver as much long-term housing as possible;
· There would be a review of the Housing Strategy and the Committee would also be asked to consider themes for inclusion in the Strategy; and
· Promoted in the review would be the Government’s self-build initiatives.
The next meeting of the Committee on 13 October would focus on the Council’s Housing Strategy