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3 April, 2020 Open access

Homelessness charities urge government to remove last remaining barriers preventing councils from housing all rough sleepers during coronavirus crisis

Letter to Prime Minister reports examples of councils denying help to people on basis of not having a local connection or having no recourse to public funds

Homelessness charities have urged the government to remove the remaining barriers that are preventing councils from housing all rough sleepers during the coronavirus emergency.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, charities including Crisis, Homeless Link and The Passage welcome the government’s move last week to ask local authorities to house all people sleeping rough, and those in hostels and night shelters, by last weekend.

However, the charities also highlight that over the course of this week they have received reports that some people are being denied help on the basis that they do not have a local connection to the area, or because they are subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction.

Warning that too may people are still on the streets or in unsafe communal accommodation, the charities call for the government to temporarily remove legal barriers to homelessness provision and make clear that everyone who is homeless is eligible for assistance - regardless of priority need, intentionality, local connection, or immigration status.

In addition, other key recommendations outlined in a note attached to the letter include -

Finally, the charities highlight their readiness to assist the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in planning for an end to the temporary arrangements for provision of housing and support to all rough sleepers through hotel accommodation.

Chief Executive of Crisis Jon Sparkes said today -

‘We commend the government’s swift action to protect people most at risk by ensuring they have somewhere safe to stay during the pandemic. But the stark fact remains that there are people whose lives are still in danger, sleeping on our streets or trapped in crowded hostels and night shelters.

To fulfil the ambition of getting ‘everyone in’ we must see the final barriers stopping people from getting the help they need removed. This means ensuring councils have the money they need to support people into hotel accommodation and a clear message that anyone, no matter who they are or their circumstance, will get the help they need to shelter from the pandemic.

We must also ensure that once people have been accommodated they get access to the health care they need if they are affected by the virus, and in the long term are supported into safe, permanent housing once this crisis is over.’

For more information see Homelessness charities urge government to remove last remaining barriers preventing councils from getting ‘Everyone In’ from crisis.org.uk