The government is moving to ensure that those rough sleepers who have been taken off the streets during the coronavirus crisis have no need to go back once the lockdown is over, announcing at the weekend that Dame Louise Casey will head a task force to work with councils, including Croydon, “on plans to ensure rough sleepers can move into long-term, safe accommodation once the immediate crisis is over”.
The government says they want to ensure, “as few people as possible return to life on the streets”.
Since issuing an order in March to local authorities to use public buildings to provide self-isolating accommodation for rough sleepers during the pandemic, to better restrict the spread of the deadly virus, the government says that 5,400 rough sleepers have been provided with beds – 90 per cent of the number sleeping rough before the pandemic.
Borne out of necessity caused by the worst pandemic to hit this country for a century, the initiative may see some long-overdue reforms introduced to work to end rough sleeping.
In a statement issued from the Ministry of Housing, Local Government and Communities at the weekend, the government said that Dame Louise’s task force “will also ensure the thousands of rough sleepers now in accommodation continue to receive the physical and mental health support they need over the coming weeks while they continue to self-isolate from the virus”.
The scheme to house the rough sleepers has been paid for with £3.2million in targeted funding to help councils get as many people off the streets as possible.
“The storm of covid-19 has affected us all in many, varied and sometimes deeply tragic ways – we know that it is a virus that does not discriminate,” Dame Louise said.
“Due to the incredible efforts by people in local councils, charities, hotel staff and the public, many rough sleepers have been brought in and off the streets.
“Much has been done, and there is much still to do. We have all had to respond to this crisis with a deep resolve but also innovation – in bringing people inside, there is now a real opportunity to address the health and social needs of these individuals and if we can stop them going back to the streets.
“This, like so much over the last few weeks, will take a huge national effort and I’m pleased to be able to be part of that.”
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