The City Council have been able to help far more people than expected since COVID-19 struck. When the first lockdown came in, over 140 people were found to be needing housing. Hotels and University hostels were brought into use to make sure that people who had been sofa-surfing, or were already sleeping rough, were provided with accommodation.
But this was only a temporary solution. Since then we have made sure that the council has concentrated on providing longer term accommodation. We used a range of solutions, including making use of some council houses as shared accommodation, buying some houses on the open market, and making use of modular homes on three sites in the city.
Since March 2020 a total of 112 former rough sleepers have been found longer term accommodation, and at the time of writing there are only 55 people housed in temporary COVID-19 accommodation.
Unfortunately there are still some people who have resisted being housed or who find it difficult to keep to the rules in temporary housing. Each of these people is given personal attention and solutions are sought to assist them. This has resulted in some long-term rough sleepers accepting help for the first time, but there remain some who for whatever reason refuse accommodation.
A group of churches usually provide temporary accommodation during severe winter weather but this has not been possible during COVID-19. Instead we have made sure that the council provides this service. Self-contained accommodation is offered to all verified as sleeping rough, even those who were previously evicted due to dangerous, violent or persistently poor behaviour. Those who were previously evicted, and successfully manage this temporary housing without difficulty, may be offered a longer-term placement.