Homeless relocated to new accommodation to reduce coronavirus threat

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND. Outreach team speak to rough sleepers and homeless people in Liverpool city centre. Picture: Jennifer Bruce/Liverpool City Council.

Homeless people with health conditions and rough sleepers in shared facilities are to be relocated to more appropriate housing to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in Liverpool.

It means the council’s rough sleeper shelter Labre House will close, with people currently sharing communal spaces and bathrooms transferred instead to places with separate rooms and bathrooms – such as aparthotels – which will enable them to self-isolate if necessary.

Homeless households currently in bed and breakfast accommodation will be moved to aparthotels, as will those with health conditions in temporary accommodation where they cannot safely self-isolate. They will continue to be offered support.

In total the council is securing units for 110 individuals and around 50 households to help keep them safe during the current pandemic, costing around £300k for the next three months.

In the longer term, the council is looking at a range of other options that would prove more cost effective solutions.

Outreach teams are continuing to visit the city centre every day to encourage rough sleepers inside and provide them with appropriate medical support if necessary.

The council is working closely with health colleagues to proactively identify anyone with underlying health conditions and ensure they are offered targeted advice, support and a move to alternative accommodation if necessary.

Anyone in Liverpool who is at immediate risk of becoming homeless is being urged to contact the council’s Housing Options Team via phone or online.

Previously, people looking for advice or support were able to call into the team’s office in St John’s Market for face-to-face assessments, however to limit the spread of coronavirus the public counter has now been closed.

People can refer themselves to Housing Options by calling Careline, the council’s 24/7 social care contact centre, on 0151 233 3800 (Freephone 0800 731 6844).

And now a new online form has been launched to make the service even more accessible – it can be found here.

Professionals who are already supporting residents can still refer people to Housing Options under their Duty to Refer responsibility using the usual online form here.

The process for getting support for rough sleepers remains the same – use the 24-hour ‘Always Room Inside’ number: 0300 123 2041.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “The homeless are one of our most vulnerable groups and many have underlying health issues, so it is absolutely vital we do all we can to keep them safe and reduce the spread of coronavirus.

“Some of the accommodation we use for both rough sleepers and homeless people is temporary in nature which means it is more akin to a hostel and generally works well as a place for people to shelter, with shared facilities, while we find them somewhere more suitable.

“However, this is an unprecedented situation, which is why we have been working very hard behind the scenes over the last few weeks to come up with alternative provision that provides them with a place to stay that does not leave them exposed to the risk of coronavirus.

“At the same time, we are continuing to send our outreach teams out on the streets to speak to rough sleepers who are still outdoors, to encourage them into services and provide them with advice on avoiding coronavirus, and also getting them medical treatment if they need it.”