Homeless shelter will get £900,000 refurbishment

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GOSPORT’S council will spend £900,000 on a new centre to tackle homelessness in the borough.

The cash will go toward a major revamp of the currently half-used Barclay House in Trinity Green, Gosport.

The facility currently provides temporary housing for 23 families who have become homeless.

It comes after the conversion of Agnew House in Mill Lane, Gosport into a family centre which is now frequently in demand.

Tory leader of the council, Councillor Mark Hook, said this new facility will address the demand in the borough, meaning the council can avoid sending people facing homelessness to bed and breakfasts.

He said: ‘We actually thought with the amount that we put into Agnew Family Centre that should have been enough.

‘Rather than put people in bed and breakfasts, which is an expensive way of looking after people in the short term, it’s better to refurbish Barclay House.

‘It would be better facilities for them in the short time while we try and find somewhere for them to stay on a permanent basis.

‘There’s a strong demand for that at the moment and it’s important we meet those demands.’

He added new facilities will mean people will no longer share bathrooms at the centre.

The council will refer people to Barclay House.

Work will be completed in two stages and the first phase starting in June will see extensive refurbishment to the empty block.

The second phase will then see the block in use refurbished, with the work completed in early autumn.

Officers at the council are still working on the design of the centre, with the possibility of further units to be added to the centre.

Cllr Jill Wright, the Labour opposition spokesman for housing, said the facility is much needed.

She said changes to the allocation of points and charging those on housing benefit for ‘under-occupying homes’ will mean homeless people will be pushed down the housing list.

She said: ‘In the interim things are going to be pretty dire.

‘There’s definitely a need for it and it needs to be at the same level as Agnew.