Portsmouth council begins housing all of city's 200 rough sleepers in 'once in a lifetime' move

Homeless people in Portsmouth will be put up in empty student accommodation blocks as the city council starts a scheme to make sure all rough sleepers have a roof over their head

People ‘sleep rough’ for a variety of complex reasons including financial, mental health or because of addiction.

The city council has invested in a programme of personalised help and shelter for the homeless. Over the period of lockdown the Government told all councils to house people who are homeless in hotels to stop the infections spreading.

Now, the government programme is ending.

Here in Portsmouth, the Liberal Democrat-run City Council doesn't want to push people back onto the streets, so the council is housing over 200 homeless people.

For some people they will be helped into the private rented sector, some into former student accommodation, and some into the night shelters. So far 40 people have been found private rented homes and 60 others have moved into shared housing.

It is planned a further 110 people will be housed in three former student blocks on a 12-month lease while more permanent homes are found. The flats had been used as student homes but the private owners believe they will not be needed due to the pandemic.

Cabinet Member, Councillor Darren Sanders, the council's Housing team and the Lib Dem Cabinet running Portsmouth City Council have worked really hard and with huge passion on this.

"This package enables us to offer secure, safe accommodation to those who want it while we work with partners on plans we want to last for years," says Councillor Darren Sanders.

"Where other councils have either put people back out on the streets or just stuck them in accommodation and left them to it, everyone here will have ongoing support to help them rebuild their lives. There is no more important work a council can do than look after its most vulnerable.

"It is clear from listening to rough sleepers that they want support, not just a place to live, and that is what we will offer. The package also means we can continue to provide council homes for those we have a legal duty to house and the many on our waiting list."

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