Fewer people are sleeping rough on the streets of Portsmouth following the opening of two council night shelters, new figures show.
The official annual count of rough sleepers showed 19 people sleeping on the city's streets in November 2018, compared to 42 in November 2017.
In December 2017 Portsmouth City Council began funding two night shelters, which have a total of 45 beds. On the night of the 2018 count, there were 42 people using the shelters.
Official annual counts were taken on the night of 14–15 November all over the country. In Portsmouth the count was carried out by council officers and voluntary workers, who toured areas known to be used by rough sleepers. The count was verified by a representative from Homeless Link, a national voluntary organisation.
The figures from around the country were released yesterday [31 January].
Cllr Darren Sanders, the council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "This shows that the council's night shelters are successful in cutting rough sleeping by offering people somewhere to spend the night.
"Since May 2018, we've secured £384,000 from the government and we're expecting another £350,000 for 2019/20. This means the shelters open longer and more resources are going into outreach.
"We're also working hard on improving services for people who sleep rough. We've proposed a new strategy, focused on individuals and their own particular needs.
"However, we will not stop there. We want every rough sleeper to have a housing plan designed to fit them and taking in wider issues as well as a roof over their head. It could cover areas such as employment, mental or physical health, drugs, alcohol or debt – tackling underlying problems that might be barriers to living a settled life.
"We have just finished consulting local people and organisations on this approach and are analysing the results."
As well as the night shelters, the council funds a homeless day service which offers showers, laundry facilities, blankets, a clothing store and advice on housing, health and employment.
The night shelters are funded by the council and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's rough sleeper initiative.