Solutions are being found to honour a pledge that people who were given emergency hotel-type accommodation during the coronavirus lockdown will not have to return to the streets.
From late March, more than 250 people who had been sleeping rough were put up in 12 premises – mostly hotels – around the city to help keep them safe from Covid-19.
Many have made real progress in improving their personal circumstances during that time due to the stability and security on offer, and increased engagement with the wraparound support available. This has included addressing addictions to drugs or alcohol, and being linked into GPs for other health issues.
But with Government funding for this Everybody In scheme finishing at the end of June there had been considerable uncertainty about what happened next. Manchester City Council pledged it would do everything possible to prevent anyone who had been accommodated having to return to the streets and find personal solutions for everyone.
Six of the 12 emergency sites have now been able to close through people being able to move on into alternative accommodation. The City Council has been able to retain the other six for as long as necessary to meet its pledge. This includes securing the Holiday Inn Express in Gorton as part of a plan to leave a lasting legacy in tackling homelessness and rough sleeping in the city.
Three of these sites will form part of the city’s participation in the Greater Manchester A Bed Every Night scheme. The Council continues to discuss a further package of funding from the government to cover the cost of the other three.
It means that 178 people are staying on in the ‘hotel’ accommodation and people from the sites which have closed have been supported into new accommodation.
People from the hotel sites which have closed have either moved into new accommodation or been relocated to those which remain open.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, lead member for homelessness, said: “We pledged we would do everything in our power to ensure that people who had been sleeping rough but who were accommodated during the lockdown period did not have to return to the streets. It’s taken a lot of hard work behind the scenes but we are making good on that promise.
“I am so pleased for the people who have been able, with the support and stability available, to improve their personal circumstances that they will have the opportunity to sustain this change.”
However, concern remains that the ongoing economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic could see an increase in all types of homelessness.
The Council’s outreach team continue to work to build up relationships with anyone who is sleeping rough and connect them with the support available.
As well as supporting people off the streets and into accommodation, prevention remains the most effective approach to tackling homelessness. Wherever possible this is about helping people who are already in accommodation to remain in it, especially given the pressure on housing availability.
Some examples of prevention include:
Mediating with landlords to prevent eviction proceedings
Assisting with issues of rent and disrepair
Mediating with families and friends to enable people to stay in existing accommodation
Helping people with deposits to allow them to find their own accommodation solutions without having to go into temporary accommodation.
Anyone in Manchester who is at risk of losing their accommodation should visit www.manchester.gov.uk/homelessness for more details about the help available.