A Bristol MP has called for the initiative which saw hotel rooms found for people sleeping on the streets during the April lockdown resume this week.
Thangam Debbonaire has called on the Government to “issue clear instruction that everyone should be brought in off the streets” in time for Thursday’s new lockdown.
The Bristol West MP, who is also the Shadow Housing Minister, has written to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick to ask that the Government support local councils fully to enable people to get off the streets for this lockdown too.
Across the country, the Government funded councils to pay to put people without homes into hotels temporarily, to ensure that no one was unable to “stay at home” because they didn’t have one.
In Bristol, hundreds of people were put up in otherwise empty hotels during the spring lockdown, and the project was described by Ms Debbonaire as a great success.
In Bristol, and in many places around the country, it enabled council housing support services and other organisations the time and space to best support homeless people, and many have been able to move on to more permanent housing, rather than return to the streets.
In the letter, Ms Debbonaire said the ‘Everyone In’ initiative ‘saved hundreds of lives’ earlier this year.
She said that for the lockdown to happen for everyone, ‘it is essential that everyone has a safe place to call home’.
“The ‘Everyone In’ initiative in March was an incredible achievement by councils and charities, which saved hundreds of lives,” she wrote.
“A repeat of this success will require strong leadership and effective co-ordination from central Government,” she added.
Numbers of people forced to sleep rough or left without a home has risen rapidly since the ending of lockdown, despite an initial ban on evictions. With the impact on jobs and the ending of the furlough scheme, increasing numbers of people are finding themselves unable to pay rent or mortgages, and some quickly end up on the streets.
“The flow of rough sleepers onto the streets has not stopped since March. Recent data for London revealed that 3,444 people had been sleeping rough between July and September this year, with 1,901 sleeping rough for the first time. The number of young rough sleepers has increased by half.
“As we head into a second lockdown, the Government must urgently re-start ‘Everyone In’, to protect rough sleepers from a cold, dangerous winter,” she added.
She said she was worried that communal hight shelters could stay open – which could be a place where the virus spreads rapidly.
“Nobody should have to choose between a potentially unsafe communal shelter and spending the night on the streets. Given the current rates of Covid-19, will you revise this guidance to clarify that only self-contained accommodation should be used, and provide local authorities with the support to achieve this?” she asked Mr Jenrick.