At the July Cabinet meeting, Portsmouth City Council approved a range of measures to move the near 200 formerly homeless and rough sleepers from temporary hotel accommodation into 'medium term' solutions including moving a significant proportion into the private rented sector.
The PDPLA supported the moves with some reservations, read on for full details.
"The Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association commend the work that has been done over the past months to house rough sleepers and we are keen to continue to support efforts in this area, with the aim of ending the problem once and for all.
We are pleased to see the segmentation of current homeless persons into 3 groups but we continue to stress the danger of inappropriate placement of tenants in the PRS.
We do question the cost of the accommodation offered by "the HMO housing organisation" and believe that more cost-effective options exist which will offer longer term solutions, for example longer term leases rather than 1 year contracts.
We also suggest that some individuals whom PCC think could be accommodated in HMOs may be better suited to sharing in smaller units.
We have made some suggestions as to how PRS supply could be increased to the officer team, but we must stress to Cabinet that support for tenants and landlords has to be for the whole duration of the tenancy.
Government assistance to overcome some of the barriers in the long-term plan is essential, yet some of the proposals need clarification and enhancement if MHCLG are to allocate funding. We will be happy to continue work with all parties to help clarify these aspects.
Most importantly we think research needs to be carried out as to the fundamental causes of people becoming homeless. Without a full understanding of the causes the fundamental problems cannot be addressed."
(This is a summary – the full response can be seen here: https://pdpla.com/useful-documents-list/285-pdpla-response-to-pcc-plans-to-support-rough-sleepers-072020 )
Response from Cllr. Darren Sanders, Cabinet Member Responsible for Housing
"The PDPLA articulates a key fear the administration has: that the plans to 'keep everybody in' apply only to those currently in this cohort and Government - not for the first time in this crisis - is not doing the forward planning needed to deal with the long-term issues, in this case preventing homelessness or dealing with those who sleep rough in future.
The Leader, officers and I have been very clear to whoever will and will not listen in MHCLG that these things are essential if the desire to end rough sleeping is to be a reality.
I have been forwarded your deputation in the usual way and I shall be discussing the more detailed points you raise in it with officers before the meeting."
What Did PCC Decide – Medium Term?
PCC councillors "commended the remarkable efforts of the local authority and partners to meet the call from government to provide safe and secure accommodation for rough sleepers and thank the wide range of public services, the voluntary sector, the local communities, members, officers and the Accor Hotel group & the local hotel management team in continuing to support the emergency provision in place",they agreed proposals to work with MHCLG to co-produce the interim and long term plan and approved the interim plan subject to funding being made available, for the 12 months from the end of August 2020 to include:
Use Private Rented Accommodation and purchased/sub-leased property at Local Housing Allowance rents for those who need only financial support
Use HMOs through the HMO housing organisation for suitable for a private rental tenancy provided floating support is available.
Use a hotel or accommodation block for those who need intensive onsite support that can best be provided in such a setting alongside security.
Use no more than 18 spaces between Kingston Point and Hope House as the final accommodation option for those not in the above categories. This will be accompanied by intensive support, boundaries and ways to deal with antisocial behaviour.
Cabinet recognised that the potential cost of the interim plan is circa. £2.5m and that the Council are working with MHCLG to prepare a bid to the national fund made available for this purpose amounting to £105m, in the event that there remains a shortfall between estimated costs and funding identified, a further report will be prepared for Cabinet to consider prior to entering into any additional financial commitment.
What Did PCC Decide – Longer Term?
Cabinet agreed the following as principles for the long-term plan:
All those in the interim accommodation to be supported to find move on accommodation and given the opportunity not to return to rough sleeping.
Accommodation first, not accommodation only approach, with support levels tailored to individuals.
Developing the accommodation and support model to provide learning and work opportunities.
A range of accommodation and support ideally located in Portsmouth, based on Government's desire to build, buy and rent homes.
A financially sustainable model.
An approach that provides accommodation and support into sustainable housing but also supports the prevention of homelessness and those who remain on the streets.
Evidenced based using all the learning and data available to create solutions.
Cabinet agreed to ask Government to help it overcome key barriers that may impact on the long term plan, including:
Automatically paying Universal Credit to landlords taking part
Making sure payments cover the full cost of rent or Local Housing Allowance, whichever is higher
Suspend the rule that means under-35s claim at a single room rate
Work with the City Council to devise plans to help future rough sleepers and to prevent homelessness
Assist in helping the city house those on the waiting list and the homeless the City Council has statutory duties towards.
Cabinet requested the Portsmouth City Rough Sleeping Partnership Group to develop the long term plan, based on these principles, as outlined in the report.
The full PCC report and recommendations can be seen here: https://democracy.portsmouth.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?AIId=13240
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.