(20 May 2020) – Staff at Glass Door Homeless Charity are deeply concerned about the fate of those in hotels once the government’s “everyone in” programme ends.

Glass Door has supported over 170 individuals to access the government’s programme and the majority are now safely self-isolating in hotel rooms. They have been guaranteed a place to stay until their initial hotel stay comes to an end, which will be in mid-June at least. After that, the future is uncertain for many.

No one wants to see the thousands of at-risk people turfed out onto the streets in a few weeks’ time,” says Glass Door chief operating officer Lucy Abraham.

“Returning people back onto the streets should not be an option, but time is running out to find alternative solutions.

“I was disappointed but not surprised to read that ministers were ‘drawing a line’ under the "everyone in" programme[1] which has provided more than 5,500 people[2] the offer of accommodation to allow them to safely self-isolate away from the street.

“Because Glass Door is an open-access service, we often work with people whose cases are very complicated and who are not eligible for housing through the local councils. And we have found that many such people have benefitted hugely from the more stable environment offered by the hotels”.

Nancy*, a British woman in her 50s who is currently in a hotel said: “I am slowly becoming myself again. I can turn the light off. I can do a bit of meditation. I have the space to be me now. It’s a process.”

Another guest called Lisa* who has a chronic illness and was staying in our shelters before being supported to join the hotel scheme adds: 

When you live on the streets, you’re not able to shower every day or wash your hands regularly and you’re in constant contact with other people. It is a health risk, and we are a vulnerable group.

Glass Door caseworkers have supported some guests to move into interim accommodation, ahead of accessing more permanent housing. But they report that the biggest challenge will be finding ways for people with no recourse to public funds to move into accommodation.

“Before the Covid-19 crisis, a common route out of homelessness for people in this situation was through finding work and saving money to rent in the private sector”, says Glass Door caseworker Alex. “With the economy in disarray, especially the construction and hospitality sectors, this will be near impossible.

I am also working with people who have no eligibility to work and they will almost certainly find themselves back on the streets after this.

Alex adds:

“The hundreds still on the streets of London, the thousands in hotels, and the potentially millions who may become destitute need urgent action to remove barriers now to prevent a massive increase in rough sleeping.”

One guest who has no recourse to public funds and few options beyond the end of this crisis is Jimmy*:

 “I have always had to struggle, but I paid my taxes in full for 15 years before I became homeless. I am not allowed to access any support from the council or the government so I don’t know what will happen next. I really want to work so I will try and find construction work again. I have heard that it might be even harder to find a job after this though.”

 Glass Door Homeless Charity joins London Councils in calling for specific actions to protect and support people as they move on from hotels and other emergency accommodation. The charity calls on the government to: 

  • Suspend no recourse to public funds restrictions for a minimum of 12 months to allow access to safe accommodation and time to receive immigration advice
  • Provide sufficient funding for local authorities to meet the needs of rough sleepers and ensure accommodation can be secured
  • Make further welfare policy changes to support homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness, like lifting the benefit cap and abolishing the local housing allowance shared accommodation rate for single applicants under 35.
  • Phase the lifting of lockdown measures to avoid a cliff edge when hotel accommodation returns to commercial uses.

To support someone experiencing homelessness right now, please support Glass Door’s Covid-19 emergency appeal: https://www.glassdoor.org.uk/appeal/covid-19-emergency-appeal.

*Nancy, Lisa and Jimmy’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.

[1] As reported in the Manchester Evening News: https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/the-numbers-streets-going-rocket-18254318.

[2] Figure quoted by CEO of Crisis, Jon Sparkes, during the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee on Monday 11 May: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/5b5d25ac-f720-455a-84cf-fd0bdcbe0e47.