The Mayor of London has confirmed that 300 London hotel rooms have been secured for the city’s rough sleepers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The move will allow homeless Londoners to self-isolate in safety as the virus continues to spread through the capital.
The Mayor’s team collaborated with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) in order to block-book the rooms in two of its hotels over the next 12 weeks.
The rooms have been provided to the Mayor’s Office at a “substantially discounted” rate, and the scheme has been backed by the government, who provided funding to “kickstart” the trial.
The first rough sleepers were moved into the rooms over the weekend, in what will be a trial run for the scheme.
Following the trial period, City Hall will continue to work with a range of partners, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to identify other rough sleepers and “ensure everyone gets the support they need”.
The Mayor and his team will continue to work alongside IHG and other hotel operators to see if further block-bookings will be possible in the future.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq 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.”
He added: “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 Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick MP, said: “We must be vigilant in the fight against coronavirus. While it poses a threat to all of us, there is a danger of it disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable people in our society, especially rough sleepers.
“That is why my officials will be working very closely with the GLA to ensure that rough sleepers get the support they need to remain safe and secure at this difficult time.”