Over 200,000 homeless were taken off the streets and re-housed in the wake of the pandemic, but will they be kept in permanent housing or return to the street?

Coronavirus has brought many a tragedy to people across the globe, but like many things in life, it has offered the juxtaposition many of us needed. By placing each and every one of us in a restricted environment, it allowed for both sides of one coin to be glanced.

All of Life Is But a Juxtaposition

The yin and yang of experience is visible throughout all life experience, yet it can be all too easy to see the one side. Lockdown however has given people a ‘timeout’ to reassess and perhaps-rearrange their lives. Many relationships will have ended and many new ones will have sprung. The long never-ending days gone by, echoing all too loudly to ignore-ironically lockdown may have become an opportunity to be productive.

Personally, I have had the time to set up new ventures, and think about other ones, whilst also organising what is most important. Instead of boredom, I have found my time quite filled and also satisfied. Working from home has been a challenge when living with family, but it has also spurred a daily fitness practise and a newfound appreciation for the smallest connection.

The Homeless Leave the Streets

There have been many benefits to coronavirus, one of them being the removal of the homeless from the streets.

Throughout Britain, in the wake of the pandemic, the homeless were taken off the streets for fear of infection. It was hardly feasible to call a lockdown-but leave those with nowhere to go and a continuous source of infection.

It would be nice to think that the first priority would have been to protect those on the street. However, it is more likely to have rested upon the former. The homeless in London alone, would have ensured the city to have never regained itself.

170,000 Homeless in London

It is thought there are over 170,000 homeless in London alone. This is like filling Wembley stadium twice over. I come from a town of 25,000 and so London’s homeless could populate 8 towns of that size.

Whilst it is easy to imagine why people might end up on the streets, it is not so easy to imagine how they may get off them. But in an instant, the homeless were gone, and perhaps for the first time in 7 years-had a roof over their heads.

Thousands of rough sleepers miraculously found a comfortable bed to sleep in, whether it be a hostel or hotel-abandoned and lying empty by the pandemic. It never makes sense to keep a building empty, when there are so many going without. The pandemic granted the wish many of us more fortunate have long held.

Your Wish Is My Command, Dear Rough Sleeper

And in a flash, £3.2 billion was pledged by the government to local authorities to aid in the local community restoration. This included but was not exclusive to those sleeping rough. It did however become a huge priority and it has been estimated, more than 90% were re-housed.

Britain was not alone in re-housing the homeless: Germany also used empty hotels and hostels to rehouse rough sleepers. For the world, homelessness became a top priority.

Re-housing so many meant access to services that often require an address, such as benefits and career support. It has been a lifeline that could help people who have fallen short to get back on their feet. 

Mental Health Problems and Homelessness Go Hand in Hand

I have had experience with people who are homeless, and hopelessness hangs in the air. Not knowing where you are sleeping tomorrow, leaves a sense of anxiety that can quickly take on a new personality. Is it a surprise that so many have ‘personality disorders’? When daily life is too horrific to face up to, escapism is often the only relief. Most of our own difficulties are not met by a lack of a home.

Will the Fairytale Last?

But lockdown is ending, and many things are returning to a somewhat normality, albeit it changed. At one point I thought coronavirus may end homelessness for so many, for good, but it looks like they are returning to the streets. The money the government put aside for local authorities would end when July came, it became apparent. The Manchester Evening News revealed that contracts between hotels and councils were ending.

How can you throw out those you have just given a home to? Could there be anything more cruel? Putting people back on the street is a false hope and one that could leave them in a far worse position than the one they left.

When the government have been asked about this, they have simply said £3.2 bn has been provided. It would apparently cost £248 million to re-house the homeless permanently. This is a sizeable fee, but quite within the range of £3.2 billion. The money soon runs out however, and agendas change. One thing is for sure, the change will not have gone unnoticed and we can all hope-some councils may take it upon themselves to carry on supporting those without a home.

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