Portsmouth Young Labour has launched a campaign calling for more accommodation to be made available for local young people at risk of homelessness. We have developed an innovative proposal which would see a small percentage of rooms in newly developed student halls of accommodation used as a “move on” option for young people living in homelessness hostels.
We are in the midst of a housing crisis; rising rents, stagnant wages and cuts to benefits mean that more and more people are struggling to get by. Add into the mix savage cuts to homelessness services, as well as mental health and addiction support, and it is no surprise that the number of people sleeping rough in Portsmouth has trebled in the last 5 years.
The effects of this crisis are being felt particularly sharply by young people. The Zero Hour contract generation are increasingly struggling just to keep a roof over their head and growing numbers are turning to their local authority for support. Those who can convince Housing Officers that they are unintentionally homeless may be offered the opportunity to join the waiting list for a room in a young persons’ hostel.
One of the biggest difficulties staff in these hostels face is the task of supporting the young person to secure appropriate “move-on” accommodation. Despite being officially homeless many of the young people living in hostels do not meet the ever stricter criteria for joining the social housing waiting list. The chances of them finding a private landlord willing to take on a young tenant with no guarantor are slim at best.
The main young persons’ hostel in Portsmouth is located on Greetham Street, directly opposite the new 836 room student halls currently being constructed. The developer, Unite Students (a private student accommodation provider), already manages 2 other student halls in Portsmouth and has announced plans for another just across the road from Greetham Street on the site of Chaucer House. Once the new buildings are completed this will take the number of rooms it provides in Portsmouth to over 2,600, bringing in an estimated annual revenue in excess of £12million.
If just a small proportion – say 1% – of the rooms managed by Unite Students were made available as “move on” accommodation for local young people at risk of homelessness it would significantly improve the housing pathways open to some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
We are calling on Unite Students, University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council to investigate the possibility of using a small proportion of the rooms in new student halls to house local young people at risk of homelessness.
Check out our Facebook page to find out how else you can support the campaign.
Homelessness Support Worker and Portsmouth Young Labour activist.