Coronavirus: Accommodation for 136 rough sleepers in Tower Hamlets provided during pandemic

Rough sleepers have been given accommodation during the pandemic. Picture: Archant

Rough sleepers have been given accommodation during the pandemic. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

More than 130 rough sleepers have been housed by Tower Hamlets Council during the coronavirus crisis, with just a handful remaining on the streets.

Councils across the country were handed a share of £3.2m in March with the aim of ensuring everyone had somewhere to stay during the pandemic, with around 5,400 rough sleepers nationwide believed to be assisted by the scheme.

Tower Hamlets Council said it had seen 21 rough sleepers with low or less complex needs given a room in a hotel after being referred as part of the Greater London Authority’s pan-London response. The remainder were housed by the council’s own teams across its existing hostel network, as well as the borough’s hotels and B&Bs.

Support, including treatment services the hotels, has been brought in to support those with addictions or other health concerns.

Those who remained on the streets - a number of “fewer than 10” - were those who had refused the offer of somewhere to stay.

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The council also confirmed that a “very small number” of those staying in hotels had been asked to leave following violent incidents, but that it had been working with them to find alternative accommodation.

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said: “As part of our response to the coronavirus crisis, the council’s homelessness team has been working tirelessly to provide support to anyone who needs it. We have made use of our existing hostel network, as well as local hotels, to bring in 136 rough sleepers off the streets.

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“Our outreach teams continue to work on the ground every day to respond to Street Link reports and to track down anyone still not in accommodation. We believe fewer than 10 people remain on the streets.

“They are a complex group and are known to our teams. So far they have refused offers of support but we continue to engage with them every day.”

The spokesperson added: “Councils across London are now working on plans to support all those in hostels and hotels in the longer term. There are a number of challenges including funding and the availability of suitable accommodation but we are working to the guiding principle of ‘in for good’ and are determined to find solutions wherever we can.”

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