Emergency funds to house people in hotels during the outbreak may soon lapse.

Driving through the East London borough of Newham recently, Ryan Anderson and Billy Tottingham pointed out some of the places they had slept before the coronavirus outbreak.

An underpass at a train station; an alleyway; the crime ridden walkways of a local shopping center; on particularly cold nights, a subway elevator.
But all that changed in late March for the childhood best friends.

As part of Britain's efforts to control the spread of the virus, the government required local councils in England and Wales to provide emergency accommodation in bridget hotels to every homeless person living on the streets.

For Mr. Anderson and Mr. Tattingham, it has been a revelation. ''It's so surreal to wake up in bed every morning, my own room with my own door and bathroom,'' Mr. Anderson said.

''To tell you the truth, corona has been the best thing that has happened to the homeless.''

Since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, more than 90 percent of people sleeping on the street have been offered a place to stay, according to government statistics.

At the same time, a new, undocumented wave of homelessness is hitting the streets as people made jobless by the pandemic are being evicted from rooms they were renting.

Nevertheless, homeless charities say the initial success of the government's homeless program has proved what they have long maintained : that an injection of funding and support from the government can quickly and effectively bring people off the streets.

''It was an amazing effort, and it shows what you can do when you have the political will and a willingness to spend the money,'' said Dominic Williamson, the executive director strategy and policy for the British Homeless charity St. Mungo's.

Health officials and homeless advocates say the number of cases among the homeless sleeping on the street has been very low because the councils moved quickly to get them off the streets. And in the hotels people were given their own rooms, communal areas were closed and outside visitors were strictly prohibited.

But now, homeless advocates are concerned what will happen when the emergency legislation runs out.

''Moving people into the hotels does not resolve the homelessness,'' Mr. Williamson said. ''They are still homeless. A hotel is not a home.''

The World Students Society thanks author Ceylan Yeginsu.


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