Forty more beds are to be made available for homeless people in Greater Manchester this winter.
Mayor Andy Burnham said providing the extra capacity under the Bed Every Night scheme would cost £300,000 and come from his Mayoral Priorities Fund. It means the total number of beds available to homeless people in the region will increase to 520.
A homelessness charity recently warned that demand for its services had soared during the coronavirus pandemic. More than £660,000 has also been pledged to support young people identified as being at high risk of homelessness. The one-year pilot scheme will work with 250 to 300 men and women aged under 35. A Bed Every Night, which began in 2018, provides a bed, hot meal and support for anyone at risk of sleeping rough.
Mr Burnham said it had been “an incredibly tough year” for Greater Manchester and warned of a “very challenging winter ahead”. He said about 115 people were currently sleeping rough across the region. “That’s 115 too many, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. It’s a really challenging situation.”
Jo Walby, of homelessness prevention charity Mustard Tree, said there had been a huge increase in demand for its services in recent months. Before the pandemic, she said her charity would typically help about 500 people each month. Now that’s soared to more than 1,000 per week.
“What is clear is that the pandemic, as well as being a health issue, is also an economic crisis,” said Ms Walby. “The reality is if people lose their job they can’t pay their rent, they will lose their tenancies, and that’s what we’ve seen.”
There are currently 3,600 individuals and families currently in temporary accommodation across Greater Manchester and 4,500 currently living in emergency accommodation. Mr Burnham, who said his commitment to ending homelessness was “unshakeable”, said this winter “promises to be one of the most difficult we’ve experienced, possibly in our lifetimes”.