Housing The Homeless (COVID-19)
We’ve now passed four weeks of lockdown in the UK and with that we want to continue giving you guys updates on how COVID-19 is impacting homelessness. Our first blog looked at the UK government's promise to house those who are homeless during this pandemic. Other places around the world followed suit by creating similar plans and initiatives that would help move individuals from homeless shelters to hotels and B&Bs.
In the past few weeks many of major cities have moved forward from plans to promises to house those who are homeless. The purpose of this blog is to give you more of an insight into the impact of COVID-19 on homelessness and what’s happening around the world.
So let’s begin..
UK & London 🇬🇧
In London more than 1,000 people who are homeless are now self-isolating in hotels thanks to the Mayor Sadiq Khan's £10 million investment, rough sleeping team & partnered charities. Hotel rooms have been block-booked to ensure rough sleepers can follow the government's self isolating guidelines. Hotels such as InterContinental Hotel Group, Travel Lodge and Best Western have offered their services as well as black cab drivers doing their part in offering to transfer people free of charge.
St Mungos have been overseeing rough sleeper support, which has included providing staff in hotels - ensuring that drug use is banned and alcohol is discouraged. Residents are also receiving 3 meals per day from companies such as Red Radish providing their support.
New York is being seen as the epicentre of COVID-19 right now, with over 260,000 cases confirmed. With an estimated 79,000 people homeless within the city, the focus has been on housing the most vulnerable, rough sleepers who account for 5% of the total homeless population. On 11th April, mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio announced that of the 6,000 needing urgent care, 3,5000 had been transferred to commercial hotels, 500 were in isolation and 2,000 were awaiting transfer from crowded hostels to suitable hotel accommodation.
There are an estimated 150,000 people within the state of California who are currently experiencing homelessness. Governor Gavin Newsom announced “Project Roomkey” helping to rehouse 15,000 of the states most at risk people experiencing homelessness in hotels across San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Although in its beginning stages the project is funded by the federal agency who then reimburse the state and local government up to 75% of the cost of rooms. This also includes meals, security and custodial services for up to 3 months.
With a population of 7,000 individuals currently living in homeless shelters, the city has relocated 1,000 people out of crowded shelters and into hotels, emergency shelters and public housing units. Further plans have been made to move another 1,000 people into similar living conditions by April 30th. Officials have also unveiled plans for a 400-bed “recovery centre” for homeless people who test positive, with the help and provision of Doctors without borders.
With the fourth highest number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, more than 157,000 of the population are currently living in homeless shelters. Cities such as Paris, Lyon and Bayonne have found themselves overwhelmed with the situation to house all those who are homeless. The French government unveiled a financial package of €50 million to set up shelters for homeless people during the confinement period. Charities like Red Cross, who offer support and delivery services have been forced to limit outreach work due to a lack of protective gear available.
We hope this has been a helpful insight into what is happening around the world with those who are homeless during COVID-19. With time of the essence it’s clear to see governments have quickly moved from agendas to action in helping to prevent spread of the disease to some of the most vulnerable in society. We are all aware that there is still much more to be done, as news is constantly changing we will keep you up to date each week with what’s going on.
Thanks for being a part of the movement.