Council houses dozens of rough sleepers during coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 12:51 07 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:51 07 April 2020

East Suffolk Council provided emergency accommodation to dozens of rough sleepers in Waveney during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

East Suffolk Council provided emergency accommodation to dozens of rough sleepers in Waveney during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

Dozens of rough sleepers have been placed in emergency accommodation during the Coronavirus crisis.

East Suffolk Council have taken steps to protect homeless people across Waveney from sleeping rough during the pandemic.

The emergency accommodation consists of social housing stock, self-contained hotel rooms and private housing which has been furnished with essentials, including furniture, white goods and food parcels.

The social housing stock became available when the Gateway to Homechoice scheme, which gives residents the opportunity to bid for council and social housing properties, was suspended last month following the Coronavirus outbreak.

This has enabled the council to use vacant housing stock to temporarily accommodate homeless people.

Councillor Richard Kerry, cabinet member for housing, said: “Everyone involved has put in a huge effort to ensure all rough sleepers in East Suffolk have been allocated accommodation, giving them a safe place to practice social distancing or self-isolation in line with official guidelines.

“This has been a huge challenge and I would personally like to thank all teams involved who have gone above and beyond their daily duties to make this happen at such sort notice.

“It continues to be vitally important that everyone follows the guidelines of staying at home and practicing social distancing to keep themselves and others safe, so it remains a key priority for us to ensure that everyone has the spcae and support they need to do so.”

The quick response was made possible by the council’s Housing Needs, Tenancy Services and Repairs and Maintenance teams, supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communitites and Local Government, to ensure homeless people were allocated vacant accommodation at short notice.

Last week, it was revealed East Suffolk Council had transformed an empty sheltered housing property to help vulnerable people in the community.

The Avenue Mansions property, on Royal Avenue in Lowestoft, consists of eight flats and had been empty since late last year, when former residents had to permanently leave their homes for an extensive programme of maintenance. All flats underwent safety inspections, deep cleaning and various repairs.

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