Seventeen leading health and homelessness organisations, have written an open letter to the Prime Minister warning of the double threat of coronavirus and the cold weather that people forced to sleep rough are facing.
Following recent research published in The Lancet which found that the Government’s move to get nearly 15,000 people sleeping rough into safe accommodation at the start of the outbreak saved hundreds of lives, the letter urges the Government to protect people by providing self-contained accommodation as a priority due to the high risk of coronavirus transmission in communal night shelters.
The letter says that with the double threat of the coronavirus pandemic and winter, people experiencing homelessness, including those new to sleeping rough on our streets, require decisive action from central Government to provide appropriate protection for everyone who needs it. This must come in the form of self-contained accommodation, as it will be difficult to make communal places such as winter night shelters secure from coronavirus.
The dire economic consequences of the pandemic will see more and more people pushed into homelessness by the financial pressures of job loss and unaffordable rents. People experiencing homelessness, particularly those who are sleeping rough, do not have a safe home to self-isolate in or follow sanitation guidance. At the same time, funding packages for local councils to support people into safe, stable and self-contained accommodation are drying up; meaning that more and more will be forced to sleep rough or stay in shared – and therefore potentially unsafe – accommodation.