More beds will be available for rough sleepers in the city from next month.
At the moment there are 49 beds in two Portsmouth City Council night shelters, compared to 45 at this time last year. From March there will be eight more beds, taking the total to 57, after extra funding was provided by the council.
The shelters are open year-round. Last year they were used by 372 different people. They are run by two homelessness charities, the Society of St James and Two Saints, on behalf of the council.
More accommodation is made available during severe weather to ensure all rough sleepers have a safe place to stay.
Cllr Darren Sanders, the council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "We're working really hard on tackling the problems of homelessness and rough sleeping. I'm delighted we're able to increase the number of beds we can provide.
This is on top of other new services for rough sleepers we are either providing ourselves, or with our partner organisations in the city.
As well as offering more beds for rough sleepers, it's vital that we continue to tackle the root causes of homelessness. Our work on helping people afford privately-rented homes is one way we're doing this."
Other services for rough sleepers include:
- the council's homeless day service, which offers breakfast, a shower and personal support, for example with drug or alcohol issues. It also offers a hot evening meal.
- a new specialist team of 'navigators', set up by the council, which offers one-to-one support for rough sleepers moving into a more settled accommodation
- support for rough sleepers who go to Portsmouth's Queen Alexandra Hospital as patients. They get help from a new service, aimed at ensuring they have a home to go to when their treatment is over. The project is led by the council, working with other local councils and with local NHS organisations.
- the Homeless Healthcare service, launching this month, which involves medical professionals making themselves available at the places rough sleepers use. This is a partnership between the council and organisations including Solent NHS, East Shore GP Partnership, Society of St James, Two Saints and substance misuse groups.
The council's newly-agreed budget includes cash to improve temporary accommodation for people at risk of homelessness, including families.
The council is also planning new ways of helping people afford privately-rented homes. One pilot project will see the council working with a community bank to offer loans to people in housing need. Another pilot project will expand the use of council 'bonds'. This is where the council gives a landlord a guarantee that it will cover rent arrears, damage or theft, up to a certain level.
The council also has a major programme under way to provide new council homes in and around the city.
Anyone who is sleeping rough, homeless or worried about becoming homeless should search 'homeless' at www.portsmouth.gov.uk
Anyone who is concerned about someone sleeping rough should go to www.streetlink.org.uk to let support services know.