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Cities launch plans to help homeless people during coronavirus crisis

Councils have been seeking additional housing for rough sleepers to self-isolate.

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Face-to-face meetings with homeless people have been reduced in some areas (Nick Ansell/PA)

Face-to-face meetings with homeless people have been reduced in some areas (Nick Ansell/PA)

Face-to-face meetings with homeless people have been reduced in some areas (Nick Ansell/PA)

Scotland’s largest cities have drawn up plans to help and protect homeless people during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Local authorities have secured extra emergency accommodation for self-isolation of rough sleepers, as well as providing care packages.

Glasgow City Council secured additional funding from the Scottish Government for the housing, while Aberdeen City Council launched a free crisis support line to prioritise support to the most at-risk people.

A dedicated team in Edinburgh has been set up to help increase the number of safe places for homeless people to stay.

Dundee City Council said it has measures in place so homeless people can continue accessing temporary accommodation.

City of Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey said: “We’ll be exploring all options to make sure our most vulnerable families and residents can still get the help they need while following the Scottish Government’s clear instructions.

“This is clearly a very challenging time for our teams and our city so I’m pleased we’ve had a very positive response from the private sector to our appeal for extra accommodation.

“I’m grateful too for the incredible sacrifice and dedication of Edinburgh’s key workers who continue to do their jobs, day and night, to keep our essential homelessness and health services running and our people protected, as far as they can.”

Places being used to support the housing action plan during the coronavirus crisis include student accommodation and hotels.

Mhairi Hunter, Glasgow’s city convener for health and social care, said: “Over the past fortnight, Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership have been focused on securing additional emergency accommodation for those who require it.

“This has included several hotels in the city and ensures that all of those whom we have a responsibility to assist, can self-isolate where necessary in accordance with the official Covid-19 guidance.

“Additional funding was provided by the Scottish Government to offer accommodation to rough sleepers, whom our street team liaise with daily.”

Aberdeen City Council is continuing to provide support for homeless people but trying to reduce face-to-face contact as much as possible.

A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “Measures have been put in place so that anyone presenting in crisis for homelessness will be directed to telephone our on duty housing options officer and they can continue accessing temporary accommodation during assessment.

“Risk assessments have been carried out across our temporary accommodation and contingencies implemented to ensure staff and residents are safe and following NHS guidelines.

“We are working alongside communities to identify how support can be accessed and delivered to those most in need.”

This is in line with Scottish Government guidance, which is being followed by charities who support rough sleepers, such as Shelter Scotland.

Official figures from June show 29,894 households were assessed as being homeless north of the border in 2018-19.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s largest housing, care and property-management firm Wheatley Group is to make empty homes available to local authorities as temporary accommodation for the homeless.

The Scottish Government has previously announced a £50 million well-being fund to help those who work with people who may be worst affected by the crisis, including rough sleepers.

PA