Rough sleepers in Dorset taken in during Covid-19 face uncertain future

Rough sleepers in Dorset taken in during Covid-19 face uncertain future

Published by Maria Greenwood at 8:28am 24th June 2020. (Updated at 10:42am 25th June 2020)

Rough sleepers and some of those who were homeless in Dorset during the peak of the pandemic are now having to find their own accommodation.

Dorset Council says it will only fully support those it has a legal responsibility for, although it will offer help in re-locating those it has looked after during the peak of the pandemic.

It will mean many who have been accommodated by the council, including those in three premises in Weymouth, now having to find somewhere else to live.

A report to next week’s cabinet meeting says:

"Now the restrictions have been eased a decision has been made to only accept those to whom the council has a legal duty.

"All those who were accommodated and to whom the council would NOT have a statutory duty have been advised that they should be seeking their own accommodation in the private rented sector and they will no longer be supported by the council."

homeless rough sleeper

At the height of the lockdown the Council had 158 households (including 33 rough sleepers) in B&B accommodation.

This is now down to 146 households accommodated in bed and breakfast with council housing and accommodation officers working to continue to move people into alternative accommodation, whilst ensuring the necessary tenancy agreements, checks and deposits are in place, according to the council.

Many of those classed as homeless came from positions where they had been living with family or friends and were asked to move on at the pandemic outbreak.

Some were living in unregistered accommodation, paying cash, and were also asked to move when they could no longer afford to pay through losing work.

'Weymouth's homeless problem'

Seafront drinkers in Weymouth

The report acknowledges that there has been problems in some areas, notably Weymouth, which had a high proportion of homeless people both before and during lockdown.

Many homeless and rough sleepers were brought into the area, primarily because local businesses were prepared to accommodate them.

The report says:

"There are concerns from the local community about the use of some B&B accommodation in the Weymouth Seafront area where a small number of those accommodated are causing anti-social behaviour.

"Work is taking place with colleagues in property services to find alternative accommodation away from the area and outside of Weymouth.

"This includes trying to determine if the council has some its own property it could use."

The council says its aim is to settle those it can in long term accommodation with each rough sleepers supported by their own support worker to help make the transition.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter