Everybody knows that homelessness is an increasing problem in Birmingham. Homeless people are everywhere, even if the statistics say otherwise.
Responding to the release this year of the National Rough Sleeper statistics report by the Department of Levelling Up, Homes and Communities, Julie Griffin, Managing Director of Housing for Birmingham City Council, said
“We have been encouraged by progress in recent years that has seen a marked reduction in the number of people sleeping rough in the city.”
The extent of the crisis in homelessness is hidden by the wide spread practice of homeless people settling down for the night in stairways and corridors in tower blocks and flats. Its hardly surprising that when the stats folk do the speedy walk about the town they don’t find many outside the luxury hotels and shops. For hundreds of the poorest council tenants in inner city Birmingham, finding a sleeping person on the stairs is an everyday occurrence. And Birmingham city council is well aware of this fact – having had the issue highlighted to them.
Julie Griffin says that ‘Birmingham City Council is working with partners towards a future where no one is sleeping rough on the streets of this city’… but it seems so long as they can’t be found on the streets she’s satisfied.
Residents of Highgate Tower on the Southacre Estate are now demanding that the council replaces the CCTV cameras removed in recent years. With the Bordesley and Highgate Residents Forum, more than 75% of residents in Highgate Tower have signed a petition demanding action.
Cynics believe the council is making it easy for rough sleepers and others to enter the older towers, making social life unbearable, causing concern for families and driving working class people out of the area, clearing a path for developers.