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Open letter to the Prime Minister on the next steps needed to protect people experiencing homelessness in the coronavirus outbreak

On Thursday 2nd April, Crisis along with other leading homelessness charities including Homeless Link, The Passage and Groundswell wrote the Prime Minister commending the governments response to protecting people experiencing homelessness during the outbreak, and outlined the next steps needed to fulfil the ambition of getting 'everyone in'. 

 

The Rt Hon. Boris Johnson

MP Prime Minister

10 Downing Street

London

SW1A 2AA

Dear Prime Minister,

I hope that you are recovering well. Following on from our previous letter, I want to thank you and your team for the swift action that has been taken to help protect the most vulnerable people in our society in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. People experiencing homelessness, particularly those who are rough sleeping, are most exposed to the risks of the virus, not only because they do not have a safe home to self-isolate or follow sanitation guidance, but because they are three times more likely to experience a chronic health problem including respiratory conditions.

In particular, I want to express my gratitude for the coordination of the “Everyone In’ hotel and emergency accommodation operation led by Dame Louise Casey and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government to house all rough sleepers. This will undoubtedly save lives. Measures taken by the Government to boost the welfare system and protect renters from evictions will also help ensure that the pressures built up by the pandemic do not result in people being forced into homelessness.

There are however, a number of remaining barriers to the government achieving its ambition and while there continues to be far too many people still on our streets or in dangerous congregate accommodation this remains a public health emergency and a race against time. I have enclosed a fuller note on the measures required. These include, most essentially, assistance from national government to temporarily remove the legal barriers that exist to people receiving homelessness assistance, a dedicated funding stream for local authorities to secure accommodation and provide the ongoing support to people so that they can remain there, Covid-care and PPE for staff working in frontline homelessness services and local funding to assist people who are struggling to pay their rent.

Finally, we stand ready to assist the government in planning for an end to the hotel arrangements that sees all individuals provided with housing and support and helps meet the Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping for good in this country.

Yours sincerely,

Jon Sparkes, Crisis

Rich Henderson, Homeless Link

Mick Clarke, The Passage

Pam Orchard, Connection at St Martin's

Steven Platts, Groundswell

Bill Tidnam, Thames Reach

cc. Rt. Hon. Robert Jenrick MP, Rt Therese Coffey MP, Rt Hon, Priti Patel MP