Fears mount Portsmouth’s ‘homelessness crisis’ could deepen

Phil Hancock with Troy Marsh and his dog Poppy in a doorway in Havant  Picture: Malcolm Wells (160318-0574)
Phil Hancock with Troy Marsh and his dog Poppy in a doorway in Havant Picture: Malcolm Wells (160318-0574)
It would take  someone of the age of 55-plus to remember this scene along Commercial Road at the junction of Church Street.

NOSTALGIA: A Portsmouth scene unrecognisable today: Commercial Road in its pomp

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PORTSMOUTH could be on the verge of a homelessness crisis if a parliament bill goes through, fear city councillors and homelessness volunteers.

The comments come after The News revealed the number of people living on the streets across the city and surrounding boroughs was already hitting crisis level.

The government seems to be doing all it can to make sure more people are made homeless

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem leader

Liberal Democrat boss Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the council was united in its opposition of the housing and planning bill – legislation he described as ‘mad’.

The bill is being debated in the House of Lords at the moment.

However, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said if it was passed, it could mean more housing associations and council-owned homes would be sold off.

‘The government seems to be doing all it can to make sure more people are made homeless,’ he said.

‘The situation is only going to get worse in Portsmouth and the rest of the country while the government keeps pushing housing associations and councils to sell off their properties.’

Deputy leader Luke Stubbs agreed the bill would hit the most vulnerable as it would force councils to sell off more property.

This news has worried Ellie Blenkarn, a volunteer with Inclusion UK – a group which helps many homeless people across Fareham, Gosport and Leigh Park.

Speaking of the housing bill, she said: ‘This is hitting the most vulnerable people right where it hurts.’

Her concerns come after Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond revealed she would be calling on chancellor George Osborne to give the city council a slice of a £115m fund to help rough sleepers.

‘I hope this money would be spent on more sheltered housing for vulnerable people,’ added Ellie.

Figures show that 15 people are sleeping rough in the city, while 418 households are accepted as homeless.

The city has more than 200 supported housing units for homeless people.