Plans underway to provide homeless accommodation in Edinburgh

Plans have been put in place to protect people facing homelessness during the coronavirus outbreak in Edinburgh, thanks to the combined efforts of the local authority, public health, private and third sector workers.

As part of urgent measures to support those most at risk in the capital, the City of Edinburgh Council has set up a dedicated team to co-ordinate support and take steps to increase the number of safe places for homeless people to stay, for the purposes of self-isolation.

Featuring officers from homelessness, health and social care and procurement services, the new Additional Accommodation Needs Team will be responsible for co-ordinating crucial activity to step up the self-contained temporary accommodation the council has available for those without a home. This team is being supported by daily advice from colleagues within Public Health Scotland, which is greatly assisting with day-to-day decision making.

The continued delivery of care packages including food, alongside the use of bed spaces in vacant hotels, self-contained flats and University halls of residence, are among the measures being actively and urgently explored. This is alongside ongoing support for rough sleepers who are considered to be very vulnerable to the virus.

The team will build on work which has already been underway in Edinburgh to move families in shared temporary accommodation like B&Bs into self-contained places to live, and to keep Edinburgh’s homeless shelters and street-based outreach services open for as long as possible.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “We are committed to doing all that we can during this crisis and we stand ready to support everyone who is or becomes homeless, in any way possible.

“We’ve put a plan in place that will help us ensure the safety of people experiencing homeless in the city, thanks to the incredible efforts of our housing officers and third sector partners who have been working nonstop to explore options for how we continue to care for those who need it most.

“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.”

Depute leader Cammy Day said: “The new team we’ve set up has an incredible responsibility and challenge ahead of them. They will constantly be checking the numbers of rooms we might need, working in the face of a national lockdown to prioritise our city’s most vulnerable people. They need to do this while factoring in the additional support needs many individuals who experience homeless will have.

“It’s not going to be easy but we are all in this together. Hotels and other organisations are already responding to our call and we’re urgently looking at how we join forces as a city at this very difficult time.”

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