Homeless people and rough sleepers in Liverpool who were supported into emergency accommodation during lockdown could be given help to access the city’s vacant properties.
The move, which aims to prevent people from returning to the streets, will be considered by Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet.
Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, the council has worked with partners to make sure that people with nowhere to live were relocated to temporary accommodation that best suited their needs.
Working with the city’s hospitality industry, it was able to identify 180 single occupancy aparthotels and 50 other addresses for family groups, to keep people safe during the outbreak.
Properties return to commercial use
As the city comes out of lockdown, it is likely that these properties will return to commercial use and the council intends to ensure that anyone moving out of emergency accommodation, where appropriate, has the chance of a permanent home.
Before lockdown, vacant social housing spaces across the city were advertised through the Property Pool Plus housing allocation scheme. Potential applicants were invited to bid for available properties with the tenancy being awarded in terms of priority.
The new plan means that the bidding system has been temporarily suspended and vacant properties will be made available to those moving on from hostel and hotel accommodation.
Scar on the conscience of the nation
Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for adult health and social care, Councillor Paul Brant, said: “For too long the presence of rough sleepers on the streets has been a scar on the conscience of our nation. Liverpool Council is determined to stop a slide back to the pre COVID-19 position by default. Working with housing charities and local social housing providers this scheme provides a piece of the jigsaw of measures which are being put in place. Resolving rough sleeping is a huge complex issue. I’m proud that Liverpool City Council is leading the way on this issue.”
The Council has so far identified 370 cases which would benefit from the new system, whilst housing associations have so far made more than 200 properties available of which more than half have been matched with suitable applicants.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of national homelessness charity Crisis, said: “It is brilliant to hear that Liverpool City Council, housing associations and charities are working together to ensure that those who have been sheltered in hotels and temporary accommodation during the outbreak have somewhere safe and settled to live once the hotel contracts come to an end. If there is one silver lining from the pandemic it is that, with the right support, people who were sleeping rough may never have to return to the streets again.
“The outbreak has brought the value of home into sharp relief – everyone should have somewhere safe and settled to call home. This combined effort will not only help to end the homelessness of hundreds across the city but provides clear evidence that homelessness can be ended for good when the political will is there.”
The proposed scheme will be funded through redirecting existing council resources, as well as utilising funding from the £105m pot announced by the Government this week to support local authorities in preventing rough sleepers from returning to the streets.
As well as finding properties for people to move into, tenants will receive furniture and homemaker packages including crockery, cutlery and utensils.
Key local homeless services, The Whitechapel Centre, Riverside Housing Association and Creative Support will continue to provide help and advice to the new tenants when they move in.
Properties that are not appropriate for this group will continue to be allocated through the normal process.
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet will consider the proposal at its meeting on Friday 3 July.