A new strategy that seeks to understand the causes of homelessness in Portsmouth, ease pressures on temporary accommodation, and reduce occurrences of rough sleeping in the city, is being recommended for approval by Portsmouth City Council.

The proposed homelessness and rough sleeping strategy 2024 – 2029 will be presented at the meeting for the cabinet member for Housing and Tackling Homelessness on Thursday 7 December. If approved it will be adopted by the council and put into place from January 2024.

Until now, homelessness and rough sleeping were dealt with as two separate issues, with two distinct strategies. For the first time, this new strategy combines the two issues, which are linked and can be tackled more easily with a combined response. Rough sleeping is the most visible and impactful side of homelessness but is not distinct from it. The idea of the strategy is that by tackling homelessness in the city in a holistic way, fewer people will be left with no option but to sleep rough.

The strategy’s five key aims are:

  • Prevent Homelessness. Prevent incidences of homelessness wherever possible and relieve more homelessness where prevention is not an option.
  • End rough sleeping. Ensure rough sleeping is rare, brief, and not recurring.
  • Provide the right housing to relieve homelessness. Make sure people are provided with accommodation that meets their needs and lets them feel safe and secure.
  • Provide the right support. Whatever accommodation a person has, ensure they can access the right support at the right time to help them sustain it.
  • Strengthen collaborative working. Improve communication with people at risk of homelessness. Strengthen local partnerships to prevent homelessness more often.

The new strategy calls on a partnership approach to preventing homelessness and ending rough sleeping in Portsmouth, making homelessness everybody’s business. The council hopes to achieve these goals by working closely with partner organisations in the city and building upon the work of the Portsmouth City Rough Sleeping and Homelessness Partnership Group to ensure a joined-up approach across the city when working to prevent homelessness. The group includes members from partner organisations such as the police and the NHS as well as partners who provide homelessness provision in Portsmouth, the Society of St James and Two Saints.

Over the last year, the council has conducted a review of homeless provision in the city which looked at levels of homelessness and the work that is done to prevent it and secure accommodation for homeless people, and how people who are at risk of becoming homeless are supported. The review also looked at how much resource this work has allocated to it.

As part of the review the partnership spoke to people who have been homeless or threatened with homelessness. People who had used homeless services in recent months were contacted and asked what worked well for them and what did not. The new strategy has been born out of this review.  Members of the public were also invited to comment on the strategy, with 95% of respondents agreeing with the five key aims.

The review and strategy were further shaped by consultation with colleagues from the council’s children’s services and adult social care services, and members of the Portsmouth City Rough Sleeping and Homelessness Partnership Group. The Health and Wellbeing Board were also consulted and various communication channels used across a wide network to provide the opportunity for partners and individuals to comment.

Cllr Darren Sanders, cabinet member for Housing and Tackling Homelessness said: “The review into our homelessness provision is very honest and gives us a solid base to work from. I appreciate the work that has gone into the strategy so far and hope that deepening our joined-up approach will make a big difference to people at risk of homelessness in Portsmouth.”

You can view the report on the council’s democracy webpages or view the strategy via the link below.