More than 2,000 people are waiting for social housing in Crawley, 123 of whom are homeless.
The figures were shared at a meeting of the borough council’s cabinet, where members looked at a report into the council’s draft Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy 2019-24.
The report said the main reasons people in the town became homeless were when a short-term tenancy in the private rented sector came to an end or when they were evicted by their parents.
While housing developments have delivered more than 800 homes for social housing or intermediate rents in the past five years, that has not been enough to deal with the problem.
Another issue centres around the type of houses available in Crawley. Half have three bedrooms or more, which was what was needed when the new town was developed from the late 1940s onward – but the demand now is for homes for one or two people.
Of the 2,046 households on the housing register at the end of July, 994 needed either studio, one or two-bedroom homes, while 376 needed sheltered or retirement housing.
Tackling the increase in the number of people sleeping rough was one of the five priorities identified in the draft Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy.
The others were: preventing and relieving homelessness, meeting the needs of vulnerable people, accessing suitable and affordable accommodation, and preventing repeat homelessness.
In the private sector, that affordable accommodation is hard to come by.
The report said the average rents were between 19 and 50 per cent higher than the local housing allowance, with up-front costs for tenants averaging £2,500.
People looking for a room in a shared house could pay £2,200 more per year renting privately than those in social housing.
Included in the council’s action plan is the aim of halving the number of rough sleepers in Crawley by March 2022.
Last March there were 40 people sleeping in doorways or on the town’s streets in all weathers.
While the plan was to ‘engage with and assist rough sleepers off the street and into accommodation and/or treatment pathways’, the meeting was told some people were not interested in the help being offered.
The adoption of the draft Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy 2019-24 will be considered at the next meeting of the full council.