Edinburgh Council in talks to use student halls to house the homeless
One way in which Edinburgh is coming together during the coronavirus crisis
A new taskforce set up by Edinburgh City Council is considering using student halls to provide accommodation for the homeless during the coronavirus pandemic. They are also looking into how empty hotel rooms and self-contained flats could be used to provide a secure and suitable place to stay. Talks are already underway with these accommodation providers.
"We’ve put a plan in place that will help us ensure the safety of people experiencing homelessness in the city"@adamrmcvey on the steps we're taking to support those most vulnerable #coronavirus #AllTogetherEdinburgh https://t.co/AUJ93DnGzo
— The City of Edinburgh Council (@Edinburgh_CC) March 26, 2020
In cooperation with charities, the Additional Accommodation Needs Team are trying to put in place measures that would allow homeless people in Edinburgh to be able to self-isolate. Currently, this is often not possible as even those who are able to find shelter have to do so in shared temporary accommodation like hostels and B&Bs, or by sofa-surfing. The council considers rough sleepers to be a “very vulnerable group to the virus” so is pursuing these options “actively and urgently”.
Yesterday we received funding from @scotgov to work with hoteliers & @Edinburgh_cc to provide emergency accommodation for people on the street. We are working urgently to make this happen and keep people safe & well #streetteam
— Streetwork (@street_work) March 22, 2020
Many student halls rooms are likely to be vacant with some students returning home earlier than planned because of the cancellation of face-to-face uni teaching. Plus, it is possible they will be empty through the summer as they are usually rented out for tourists and Fringe performers. It is currently unknown whether the Edinburgh Festival (including the Fringe) will go ahead this summer.
Increasingly bizarre getting emails like “Hello, on the assumption that you aren’t on the cusp of death because of a literal pandemic, the Edinburgh Fringe need the following information from you by the end of the week”
— Ahir Shah (@AhirShah) March 25, 2020
The council will also be supplementing these measures with care packages to ensure that some of Edinburgh’s most at-risk residents are looked after.
In these unprecedented times, it seems Edinburgh’s residents are rallying round to help each other out. Alongside these efforts by the council, the Meadows Share is flooded with offers of help. Additionally, nearly 9000 people have joined the Coronavirus Volunteering Edinburgh Facebook group to help out their neighbours in-need with tasks like cooking meals, going to the supermarket and having a friendly chat over the phone.
“I just want to do something to help”: if this is you, pls read this excellent guide from Volunteer Edinburgh (you don’t have to be in Ed for it to be relevant). It’s often the small acts of kindness that have the greatest impact. https://t.co/lSgTn3LTl2
— Rebecca McQuillan (@BecMcQ) March 21, 2020
Deputy Council Leader, Cammy Day, said combined efforts by the taskforce, voluntary organisations and the private sector would help Edinburgh come together during national lockdown. He said: “It’s not going to be easy but we are all in this together. Hotels and other organisations are already responding to our call and we’re urgently looking at how we join forces as a city at this very difficult time.”