A YOUTH hostel is being prepared to house up to 51 rough sleepers with coronavirus symptoms.

The YHA building in Brighton's Old Steine is currently being readied for this repurposing by staff following negotiations with Brighton and Hove City Council.

It is one of several properties the authority plans to commandeer to provide accommodation to rough sleepers in the city during the pandemic.

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This follows an agreement between Brighton and Hove City Council and hotels last week after Government officials instructed told every authority in England they needed to help people off the streets and out of night shelters.

It was announced that every rough sleeper will be offered a room.

A council spokesman said: "We have now secured the YHA property in the Old Steine and staff have been working to get the building ready.

"This provides 51 units of accommodation and will be used specifically for anyone who has been rough sleeping and has covid-19 symptoms.

"We are in advanced negotiation on a number of other properties as a matter of utmost priority. We hope to have these confirmed in the coming days.

"Including the YHA, we’re aiming to secure a total of 219 units on top of the 106 previously acquired. Of those 106, we have housed 69 people who were sleeping rough, with the others occupied by homeless people who we needed to move on from shared emergency accommodation.

"We have about 60 outstanding referrals from people who are sleeping rough. However, this number is likely to change following new presentations.

"We have an assessment process set up ready for when the accommodation is secured. This is to make sure everyone is housed in the most appropriate accommodation with the correct support in place."

The council also explained how it intends to ensure those staying in the accommodation are supported with essential items such as food and medication.

The spokesman said: "We are jointly working with NHS and public health as well as our other partners who provide support.

"This includes food and other basic provisions for those homeless who need to self-isolate where required, to ensure we have a comprehensive support system in place for the rough sleepers and for the providers of accommodation.

"We are also working closely with agencies in the city to set up a city-wide food distribution service for vulnerable people. This is being led by the city’s Food Partnership, which has been doing fantastic work in this area for many years."

Brighton and Hove City Council urged anyone wanting to help this "citywide effort" to contact the Food Partnership and offer their services.

It also advised rough sleepers, or anyone who saw someone rough sleeping, to contact Streetlink, an organisation which "enables members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them".

The council spokesman said "St Mungo’s Street Outreach Service can then get in touch with them to support their access into accommodation".

  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund