Portsmouth sees rough sleeper numbers halved as council expands accommodation

ROUGH sleeping in Portsmouth has been reduced to just over a dozen individuals across the city, according to the latest figures from the city council.

By Richard Lemmer
Friday, 19th March 2021, 2:23 pm

It marks a 50 per cent drop from the last count before the pandemic, with the council identifying 26 rough sleepers in November 2019.

Now the council has purchased three former student blocks in Elm Grove and St Michael’s Road to accommodate former rough sleepers looking to move on to permanent housing.

It follows the government granting £4.6 million - the sixth highest amount in the country – for the council to secure ‘move-on’ accommodation for homeless people.

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One in seven adults in England have become more worried about becoming homeless due to the pandemic (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

During the first six months of the pandemic, the local authority used two hotels to house a total of 444 people who were sleeping on the streets or at risk of doing so.

Of those, 109 have been helped to find suitable housing, 96 remain supported by the council’s scheme, while the remainder have left the area or found their own accommodation.

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Those who have spent years living on the streets have seen their lives ‘transformed’ by the council’s work, according to Portsmouth City Councillor Darren Sanders.

Cllr Darren Sanders celebrates the council acquiring three new properties to house homeless people.

Cllr Sanders, who is the council’s cabinet member for housing and preventing homelessness, said: ‘There are currently 13 rough sleepers on our streets – that’s the lowest level for a long time.

‘We are recognised as one of the best in the country for tackling this problem.

‘This work is transforming the lives of rough sleepers, and it is saving lives.’

The new council accommodation comes as a collective of Portsmouth churches also expands its support for the homeless.

National group Hope Into Action, which is working with five churches across the city, has bought its fifth house to provide a home for rough sleepers.

Tracey Ansell from group Hope into Action said: ‘We have just exchanged on our fifth house.

‘We know that we have hit the mark when our team walks in and say – this is nicer than my house.

The charity is now working with North End Baptist Church, Cosham Baptist Church, St Jude’s in Southsea, Langstone Church, and St Mary’s.

A specialist homeless healthcare team has been created thanks to increased government funding.

Alan Knobel, the council's substance misuse co-ordinator, said: ‘We have been given a sizeable amount of money to develop a specialist rough sleeping drug and alcohol team, which has started this month.’

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