On the 27th March the government ordered the first “everyone in” scheme which gave local councils 72 hours to house all homeless people in emergency accommodation. The government gave out 3.2 million pounds to fund this and over 14,500 people were moved off the streets. On the 5th November the government announced a further £15 million will be allocated to the homeless as part of the winter “protect programme” to help keep people in accommodation throughout the second lockdown and beyond. And although this sounds like a great plan, it only takes one quick walk around Leeds City Centre to see that many people are back and sleeping on the streets.
So why is it so important that people are brought inside during the second wave of coronavirus? Research published in the Lancet estimated that 266 lives of homeless people were saved during the first “everyone in scheme”. The main issue being that without this accommodation many rough sleepers would be forced into community night shelters where social distancing is almost impossible and infections spread like wildfire. St Georges Crypt has done an excellent job of maintaining safe and effective accommodation over the pandemic, however they can only continue to do this with support from hotels and emergency accommodation. The fact that this second lockdown is happening in winter also adds peril to the situation, meaning that it is crucial we get everyone in in time and for good.
The trouble is there is an impending doom of the furlough scheme ending, job losses and evictions that threaten to increase the number of rough sleepers exponentially. When this tidal wave hits our city how will the existing charities cope? I guess only the future will tell….