Coronavirus: Northampton homeless 'will be housed' after crisis

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Abington Street homelessImage source, Stan Robertson
Image caption,
Homelessness has been a ongoing issue on the streets of Northampton town centre in recent years

None of the homeless people currently living in hotels in one town "will fall through the cracks" when the coronavirus crisis ends, according to a group tackling the issue.

Northampton's Single Homelessness Forum moved 90 homeless or rough sleeping men and women into two hotels in the town.

The forum is aiming to re-house up to 40 people with private sector landlords by mid-June.

Chairwoman the Reverend Sue Faulkner said "rough sleeping isn't inevitable".

She said private landlords were working with Northampton Association for Accommodation of Single Homeless (NAASH) to ensure future "housing is well managed and tenancy conditions are complied with".

Ms Faulkner said: "The goal will be no-one will fall through the cracks."

She said the experience of having homeless people living in hotels had encouraged landlords to come forward.

"Any problems are nipped in the bud," she said, "which is best all round for a tenant to have long-term secure housing and a landlord to have a long-term tenant."

Image source, Sue Faulkner
Image caption,
Sue Faulkner said there was a "substantial block booking" at two Northampton hotels to allow time to move homeless people into accommodation
Image source, Stan Robertson
Image caption,
Northampton's Abington Street is home to many rough sleepers

The forum, whose members include Northampton Borough Council, NAASH, Northampton Hope Centre and Churches Together, moved homeless people into hotels at the end of March as the government insisted all rough sleepers should be found a roof over their head.

People there have been receiving three meals a day, toiletries, fresh clothing and access to treatment and support services.

The Forum said some people who had refused help remained on the streets, but the "complex reasons for this are being addressed".

Ms Faulkner said: "The Covid-19 public health emergency and our response to it has shown us rough sleeping isn't inevitable and we can break this vicious circle, keep people safe and prevent rough sleepers returning to the street."

One homeless woman, aged 34, said: "I am now off the drugs, eating more than I was and can shower when I want."

Another user of the scheme, a man aged 35, said living in a hotel had given him "stability and security" and added he would "benefit in the long run although it has taken such a nasty thing for this to happen".

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