National organisation Crisis revealed today (Friday) that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government had sent a letter to homelessness managers and rough sleeping co-ordinators across the country.
The letter is reported to have said: “As you know, this is a public health emergency. We are all redoubling our efforts to do what we possibly can at this stage to ensure that everybody is inside and safe by this weekend, and we stand with you in this.
“These are unusual times so I’m asking for an unusual effort. Many areas of the country have already been able to ’safe harbour’ their people which is incredible. What we need to do now though is work out how we can get ‘everyone in’.”
Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes called the move a “landmark moment – and the right thing to do.”
“Questions remain about how local councils will be supported to do this, and whether additional funding, or assistance securing hotel rooms, will be made available. We also need to see a package of support so that, when the outbreak subsides, the outcome is not that people return to the streets,” he said.
“The Government has committed to ending rough sleeping by 2025 – this proves it can be done in 2020 if we make it the priority it deserves to be.”
The charity has made a series of recommendations which it believes will help the government achieve its aim, including:
Launching a national appeal for accommodation
Establish a dedicated stream of funding for local authorities
Lifting restrictions on housing benefit
Instructing councils that no legal barriers to help should be used
Suspending “hostile environment policies” that keep people homeless
Suspending all evictions from Home Office asylum accommodation