Dozens of Portsmouth's rough sleepers will be moved to a hotel to give them self-contained accommodation during the coronavirus outbreak.
Portsmouth City Council has been working on a detailed plan in liaison with government to enable rough sleepers to move into self-contained accommodation to ensure both their health and safety and that of the community during the Covid-19 crisis.
The accommodation will allow social distancing and self-isolation to be practiced. The council has already been providing self-isolation spaces at its existing night service and doing everything possible to enable social distancing at the homeless day service.
The hotel that has been identified was settled upon after investigating a range of options. Other potentially suitable hotels are already prioritising provision for NHS key workers.
The council has started assisting rough sleepers to relocate from its existing provision to the hotel and expects everybody who is willing to move, to be relocated from Thursday 2 April.
In line with expected government guidance, any rough sleepers who don't use the current service will also be invited to take up the offer, which will include an en-suite room and provision of food.
The providers of the current service, The Society of St James and Two Saints, will continue to work with the council to ensure everyone can access support in a safe environment. The current health care and support team will join them.
This arrangement will remain in place until further notice.
Portsmouth's Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Darren Sanders, said: "People who sleep rough are particularly vulnerable to this virus and supporting them is a top priority. This radical step - which we were developing in anticipation of the government's welcome announcement - makes sure we can house them safely and that they continue to have ample support from our excellent partners Two Saints and The Society of St James and of course, Portsmouth City Council."
Any Rough Sleepers who exercise their right not to take up the new service offer will continue to be monitored and supported by our community wardens and outreach team. Food provision for this group will be coordinated with those elements of the voluntary sector who are continuing to support them.