Homelessness and COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis gave rise to the biggest government effort to bring in the street homeless, with the “Everyone In” policy, but just how big is the homelessness problem?

The UK Government spent £700 million on homeless and rough sleeping during the COVID-19 crisis. [1]

Large spikes in homeless hospitalisations had previously been seen during pandemic flu seasons. [2]

The “Everyone In” campaign asked local authorities to offer accommodation immediately to all rough sleepers. [3] The local authorities had to provide two types of accommodation: COVID-PROTECT – single rooms with bathrooms, and COVID-CARE – medically assisted for the symptomatic. [4]

33,139 people were brought into accommodation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as of the end of November 2020.

23,273 people moved into more settled accommodation, as of the end of November 2020.

9,866 people remained in hotels and other emergency accommodation, as of the end of November 2020.

2,000 people with no recourse to public funds faced challenges in moving to more settled accommodation. [3]

The Autumn 2019 official count in England recorded 4,266 people sleeping rough. This represented a fall of 9% on 2018, but an increase of 141% on the 2010 count (1,768). [5]

The total number of people accommodated under “Everyone In” between the end of March and the end of November 2020 was almost eight times greater than the most recent annual snapshot of rough sleepers. [3]

“Everyone In” may have prevented over 266 deaths and 20,000 infections among the homeless population over this period. [6]

16 deaths of homeless people were linked to COVID-19 as of the 26th of June 2020. [7]

There was no homeless contingency plan in place for a pandemic. Dame Louise Casey co-ordinated the pandemic response for rough sleepers. “The scale and pace of the urgent effort to take rough sleepers, and those at risk of rough sleeping, into safe accommodation tested the resilience of all organisations involved, with key staff working intensively for extended periods.” [3]

Coronavirus support for rough sleepers (England) House of Commons Briefing paper 14.1.21

Miyazaki A, Hasegawa K, Tsugawa Y. Lessons from influenza outbreaks for potential impact of COVID-19 outbreak on hospitalisations, ventilator use, and moralist among homeless persons in New York State. J Gen Intern Med 2020; published online June 4.

Investigation into the housing of rough sleepers during the COVID-19 pandemic MHCLG National Audit Office 12.1.21

Rough sleeping snapshot in England Autumn 2019, published by MHCLG Official Statistics, 27 February 2020.

D Lewer et al, ‘COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness in England: a modelling study’, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, vol 8 issue 12, December 2020, pp. 1181-91.

Office for National Statistics, Coronavirus and deaths of homeless people, England and Wales: deaths registered up to 26 June 2020, 10 July 2020.

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