INNOVATIVE plans to help rough sleepers in Portsmouth have been endorsed, with funding secured for the next two years.
At yesterday's housing meeting the council's participation in the new street homelessness and rough sleepers partnership was approved.
The strategy will involve other organisations including charities and health boards to create personal plans for individuals. It is hoped this will help homeless people to find accommodation as well as dealing with issues such as employment, mental or physical health, drugs, alcohol and debt.
Initially Portsmouth City Council was awarded £384,000 by the government for this year to initiate the scheme. Yesterday the council's housing boss, Cllr Darren Sanders, revealed a further £350,000 would be given to continue the work until 2020.
He said: 'I can now report that although we bid for £1m to cover speculative plans, we have provisionally secured another £350,000 to use for 2019 and 2020.
'This gives us some certainty going forward. I am delighted that we have got three quarters of a million from central government for this.'
Cllr Sanders believed that attitudes towards rough sleepers would need to change. 'This is the start of a process,' he said.
'We have to make sure we get the services right. First is to treat people as individuals. We have to move away from the notion of sweeping people off the street.
'Part of that attitude is linked to street beggars. We could consider an alternative giving campaign like in Manchester.
'I currently have no idea how this is going to do. But if we don't start this journey people who end up sleeping rough will continue to do so when they need the option to lead better lives.
Tory Cllr Luke Stubbs added: 'There is reference in the report to street begging. I know that some of the people who beg are not actually homeless. There are some that us to fund a drug habit. I believe stronger action is needed but it is a police matter not for the council.
As part of the strategy an accommodation first model will be implemented in the hope of getting people housed quickly. A homelessness working group will also be established.
Cllr Claire Udy said: 'I have been involved with some of the grassroots groups that deal with homelessness. I have realised from doing this field work in Charles Dickens ward that these organisations get on with their own thing and don't tend to like each other. I would like to suggest that the homeless working group gets everyone in the grassroots groups involved.'