Coronavirus: Call to fund housing for all homeless in outbreak

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image captionRough sleepers are thought to be more at risk of contracting the virus

The government should fund accommodation for all rough sleepers in response to coronavirus, the Greater Manchester mayor has said.

Andy Burnham said the government should immediately release funds to councils to "house all people who are homeless".

The government has already pledged an initial £3.2m fund to help authorities provide accommodation to rough sleepers who need to self-isolate.

Mr Burnham said rough sleepers needed support "as a matter of urgency".

Rough sleepers are thought to be more at risk of contracting the virus, with many having underlying health conditions, limited access to government guidance and not being able to self-isolate.

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Mr Burnham said: "The government needs to say today, at the daily briefing, that they are requiring local authorities to house all people sleeping rough and that this will be fully funded."

The number of rough sleepers has been falling in Greater Manchester, according to local authorities, which estimate there are more than a hundred in the region and "thousands" nationwide.

Glasgow model

However, a group of charities have warned that dormitory accommodation could be a "Petri dish" for the virus.

As part of a trial this weekend, 300 rooms were offered by hotels in London to charities to protect rough sleepers from the spread of the virus.

Matt Downie, director of policy at the homeless charity Crisis, believes student accommodation could also be used to house rough sleepers.

He said "the ideal outcome" was something similar to a plan launched in Glasgow, where rough sleepers have moved into furnished flats.

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