In April 2020 government funding backed an ‘Everyone In’ campaign to provide accommodation for those living on the streets and reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. As council agreements with the local businesses in which people have been housed come to an end, we face a ‘cliff edge’ fear of these individuals being forced to return to the streets.
If it wasn’t already a struggle to help these vulnerable folks get the help they need, the pandemic has caused an increase in the number of people who now face the possibility of rough sleeping.
For those who have been on the streets for an extended period have been given a taste of what it feels like to be safe and secure and know they won’t go hungry causing them to feel even more anxious about going back to their old way of living.
At present it is down to the discretion of local councils to decide how they move forward with supporting homeless charities in finding more permanent housing for those facing long nights on the streets once again.
Huffington Post (linked from Shelter Facebook page)
Following the success of the ‘Everyone In’ campaign, Homeless link have now launched the campaign ‘Everyone In For Good’. This drive aims to ensure all those at risk of returning to the streets once emergency accommodation is no longer available are offered alternative housing.
Former rough sleeper Rhys is pleading to MP Luke Hall, Homelessness Minister, to back him in asking the government to ensure those now being evicted from temporary accommodation such as hotels, are placed in another form of accommodation while the pandemic is still ongoing.
Night shelters are still closed to reduce the risk of infection therefore government backed regulations on the way local councils should act going forward is essential – the streets are a dangerous place anyway without the addition of the worry of the pandemic.
At the end of May it was announced Ministers have vowed to build 3300 properties in the next 12 months, with another 2700 to become available at a later date in the bid to ‘prevent those taken off the streets during the pandemic to return to homelessness once it is over’.
Though this is a step in the right direction this will leave more than half the 15000 rough sleepers provided with emergency accommodation unprotected. The government has provided funding to local councils to support rough sleepers but there is a need for further support to be able to move people out of temporary accommodation and into housing.
Although government funding has been significantly increased for the 2020-21 period, it is unsure if this will become the new norm. If the government is serious about eradicating homelessness they need to understand the reasons behind homelessness and realise the importance of providing regular council funding for the creation of affordable social housing, which would prevent many people reaching the desperate, last resort stage of rough sleeping.