AN EMERGENCY plan to keep homeless people sheltered during the pandemic has been extended.

Hundreds of rough sleepers have been given self-contained accommodation in Brighton and Hove to keep them off the streets during the coronavirus crisis.

The measures were first brought in at the end of March to ensure that people complied with lockdown rules, and to stop the spread of the virus.

Current plans were set to finish at the end of September.

Now Brighton and Hove City Council says 372 units have so far been found to house the homeless, which will run until the end of December.

The Argus:

The authority said it is working with homeless charities to find longer term options for those who have been stuck in emergency accommodation.

But there are fears of a shortfall in properties available, with a risk that more than 200 people may be at risk.

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There are also fears that the Government, via the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, will not step in after September.

The council here says if its funding bid is not successful, and if the Government doesn’t extend the emergency scheme into the winter, it could cost the authority £1.5 million.

Housing committee chairman Councillor David Gibson said: “The accommodation and support we’ve been able to offer people who were rough sleeping has been crucial to keeping them – and the city – safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It has given us and our partners a vital opportunity to work closely with people we’ve previously struggled to engage.

The Argus:

“Staff and volunteers across many services are continuing to work tirelessly to keep people safe and support their move into secure housing.

“A key part has been to plan options for the current arrangements ending to avoid the need for anyone to return to the streets. We have a window of opportunity now.

“We are committed not to return rough sleepers to the streets.

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“We urgently need more funding to support our efforts to provide safe, secure housing for everyone.”

Cllr Gill Williams, the opposition lead for housing, said: “The resources involved in this response have been considerable.

“It has shown what can be achieved with the right resources in place.

“We believe everyone should have safe, secure accommodation.”