London’s rough sleepers to be offered 300 hotel beds

Some 300 homes are being made available for rough sleepers in the capital, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced.

The Mayor, who is being backed by the government, has worked with Intercontinental Hotels Group to block-book the rooms in two London hotels for the next 12 weeks.

Over Friday and the weekend, as part of a trial period, rough sleepers who are already known to the homelessness charities supported by the Mayor will be moved to the rooms.

Khan, said: “The coronavirus outbreak affects everyone in London and we must do all we can to safeguard everyone’s health – not least those Londoners who face spending each night sleeping rough on the capital’s streets.

“Rough sleepers already face difficult and uncertain lives and I’m determined to do all I can to ensure they, along with all Londoners, are given the best protection possible.

“My heartfelt thanks go to InterContinental Hotels Group for stepping up and playing their part in helping protect rough sleepers during this difficult period.

“We are also very grateful to the black cab drivers from FreeNow and Gett who have offered to transport rough sleepers to these rooms, helping them to avoid using public transport.

“Together, as a city, we will come through this incredibly challenging period.”

The rooms are being provided at a substantially discounted rate.

The Mayor said he will continue to work with IHG and other hotel operators to see if further such block-bookings will be possible as and when they are needed.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “During this outbreak, the only answer to truly protect people sleeping rough, and those in crowded hostels and night shelters, is to provide emergency testing for the virus and self-contained accommodation so they can self-isolate.

“We are pleased the Mayor of London is taking these necessary steps, but with over 1,000 people sleeping rough in the capital tonight and many more in night shelters, well above 300 hotel rooms are needed.

“We cannot overstate how urgent it is that every person who is homeless across Britain is given a safe, secure place to stay during the pandemic.”