Coronavirus has exposed the true numbers of those “hidden homeless” who were sofa-surfing and dependent on the generosity of family and friends. As the UK went into lockdown, close on 15,000 people in England who had been sleeping on the streets or in crowded night shelters were provided with hotel rooms and other forms of emergency accommodation under the government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative. This response, unprecedented in its scale and urgency, undoubtedly saved lives.
Now is a crucial moment where the UK can either choose to rekindle the ambition of Everyone In and recognise that they can end homelessness for good; or return to a broken way of doing things and risk unravelling all the unprecedented progress that has been made. It must take urgent action and introduce emergency legislation to ensure that everyone who is sleeping rough or at risk can access homelessness support over the next 12 months – especially while this deadly virus is still out there.
Photo: Julian Ebert