Hackney Council places more than 50 homeless people in hotels during coronavirus lockdown

Contrasting situations in Morning Lane: Rough sleeper tents in Churchwell Path beside glitzy Hackney

Contrasting situations in Morning Lane: Rough sleeper tents in Churchwell Path beside glitzy Hackney Walk. Picture: Cllr Ian Rathbone - Credit: Archant

More than 50 homeless people have been housed by Hackney Council since the coronavirus lockdown began.

The government told all councils last week they had to try and to ensure all people sleeping rough were in accommodation by the weekend.

The move was welcomed by the council, which said it had placed people in hotel rooms from the Mare Street No Second Night Out hub, the Hackney Winter Night Shelter and almost half of identified rough sleepers.

But it has called on the government to lift restrictions on the Local Housing Allowance, household benefit cap and Discretionary Housing Payments to protect further homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic.

Housing needs chief Cllr Rebecca Rennison said: “We were working hard to get rough sleepers off the streets so they can keep safe and comply with the lockdown long before the request from government, but I’m delighted that they have at last recognised the urgency of the longstanding homelessness crisis.

“More than 50 people who had been rough sleeping or staying in night shelters in Hackney are now in safe, self-contained accommodation, and we’re working with those remaining – and any new cases of homelessness – to do the same.

“Street homelessness is a deeply ingrained issue, exacerbated by a decade of government-led austerity. We have no powers to force people off the streets, and each individual has complex issues that will not be solved overnight.

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“We look forward to hearing about how the government will help councils ensure these people don’t end up back on the streets once this crisis is over.”

The town hall has also asked anyone with empty, self-contained accommodation to let it be used for emergency homeless accommodation. The Housing Supply Team can be contacted on 020 8356 4411 or housingsupply@hackney.gov.uk.

Hackney has 1,154 long-term empty homes, that is, those that have had no one living in them for at least six months.

Anyone concerned about someone rough sleeping should tell Street Link who will offer help, support and advice. Anyone at risk of homelessness should contact Hackney Council for housing advice.

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