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Havering Council plots next steps for homeless, as hotel bill hits £75k a month

PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 June 2020

Government ordered all rough sleepers be found and accommodated during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Hannah Somerville

Government ordered all rough sleepers be found and accommodated during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Hannah Somerville

Hannah Somerville

Dozens of rough sleepers given emergency accommodation will not be asked to leave until alternative housing has been secured.

Havering Council has put up 36 homeless people in hotel rooms, costing £75,000 per month. Picture: Adriana ElguetaHavering Council has put up 36 homeless people in hotel rooms, costing £75,000 per month. Picture: Adriana Elgueta

Rough sleepers put up in hotels by Havering Council during the coronavirus crisis must not end up back on the streets, the authority has said.

The council is currently shelling out roughly £75,000 per month to keep dozens of homeless people safe, with the help of Government grants paid to the council at the start of the covid-19 pandemic.

NHS commissioners are also helping to foot the bill.

The council told the Romford Recorder that it had been extending its contract for hotel provision on a monthly basis, but that it did not expect to still require hotel rooms beyond July.

It announced last week that it had set up a multi-agency group to support homeless people into other accommodation.

It said it would follow the strategy set out by London Councils on what to do next.

The first clause of the London Councils strategy states: “No one who has been placed in emergency accommodation in response to the covid-19 public health crisis is asked to leave that emergency accommodation without an offer of support to end their rough sleeping.”

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A total of 36 people were rescued from Havering’s streets earlier this year, when Government demanded all rough sleepers were found and housed as the deadly virus tore through London.

After receiving the instruction in late March, the council began organising “daily patrols”, carried out in conjunction with London Street Rescue, to ensure all homeless people were contacted and offered accommodation.

The authority said it was not aware of any rough sleepers who had declined shelter.

Asked whether any had accepted accommodation and then left it, a council spokesman said: “Only people that have breached their conditions who were subsequently evicted by the hotelier. We quickly sought alternative provision for them.”

The council is now working with charities and NHS services to help people become self-supporting and avoid falling back into rough sleeping.

Its multi-agency group includes the North East London NHS trust, homeless charity Hope 4 Havering and the Westminster Drugs Project.

The London Councils’ strategy says homeless people housed during the pandemic may be moved to different boroughs, stating: “Responsibility is shared fairly across London boroughs... None are disproportionately impacted as a result of hosting rough sleepers from outside their boroughs during the emergency.

“The London-wide approach supports and complements the efforts of individual boroughs and providers, and vice versa.”

Across the capital, 4,970 rough sleepers have been accommodated, of whom 2,800 were put up in hotels.


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