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Cornish hotel and holiday home owners urged to open doors to the homeless

Cornish hotel and holiday home owners urged to open doors to the homeless

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:01am 28th March 2020.

Charities have urged the Government to block-book hotel beds for homeless people to self-isolate from the coronavirus – a move that could affect hundreds of Cornwall families.

Doing so could “potentially save thousands of lives” throughout the country, say the Museum of Homelessness, as it warned shared emergency shelters could become “death traps”.

In a meeting at Cornwall Council on Thursday, Chief Executive, Kate Kennally, urged people with second homes and hotels owners in the Duchy to open their doors to provide temporary accommodation for those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. 

Between July and September last year, 249 households identified as homeless in Cornwall, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows – a 4% increase on the same period in 2018.

Matt Downie, director of policy at Crisis, said homeless people are more susceptible to catching and spreading COVID-19 and are more vulnerable to the worst effects of it.

“Not just because the advice is impossible if you don’t have anywhere to live, but also the underlying health needs of the homeless making them more vulnerable – you are three times more likely to have a respiratory illness.”

Matt Downie, Director of policy at Crisis

He said that it was now a “race against time” to ensure people experiencing homelessness have access to self-contained accommodation with private bathrooms.

The Government has already pledged £3.2 million in emergency support for rough sleepers during the outbreak – 11% of which (£368,000) is going to the South West.

“Public safety and protecting the most vulnerable people in society from coronavirus is this government’s top priority.

“The initial funding that I’ve announced will ensure councils are able to put emergency measures in place to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society to successfully self-isolate.”

Robert Jenrick, Communities secretary

However, charities are urging further action, with Crisis calling for an increase to housing benefits and quicker payment of Universal Credit to prevent more people from becoming homeless.

In addition to those identified as being homeless in Cornwall, a further 429 households were threatened with homelessness within 56 days during the third quarter of 2019.

Matt Turtle, the co-founder of the campaign group the Museum of Homelessness, said the number of people who risk becoming homeless as a result of the coronavirus is going to increase, as they become unable to buy food or pay their rent.

He said it was really difficult to keep people in shared spaces if anyone shows symptoms, and that finding a solution could “potentially save thousands of people’s lives”.

“If they are staying together in hostels it could literally be like a death trap to them because they are communal.

“Even if one of them has symptoms it can drag everyone else down – they are exposed to more and more of the virus.”

Matt Turtle, co-founder of  Museum of Homelessness

An MHCLG spokeswoman said the Homelessness Reduction Act had allowed people to access the support they need and that recent rough sleeping statistics showed those sleeping on the streets fell for the second year running.

 “We are providing £492 million to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness this year to stop people from becoming homeless and ensuring those that are can rebuild their lives with a roof over their head.”

MHCLG spokeswoman

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