“We are all at risk from Covid 19, but homeless people, particularly those who are rough sleeping, can be amongst the most vulnerable”, Workers Party spokesperson Conor Duffy says.
Calling for a specific Covid 19 response package to meet their unique needs, Conor said, “homeless people are three times more likely to experience a chronic health condition, including asthma and COPD”.
“The support they depend on needs to be secured and strengthened as the demands on all resources increase at this time. It is vital that homeless people are recognised as a vulnerable group and that the Northern Ireland Executive steps in now to protect and enhance the vital services they need”, he said.
“I have been in touch with the Department for Communities and the Department of Health to bring these issues to their attention”, Conor added, “and, as a minimum first step, I am calling on the Executive to announce a programme of measures including:
- securing hotel style accommodation to meet the increased need for self-contained accommodation so that people can self-isolate.
- ensuring that anyone who is at risk of, or is already homeless, can access self-contained accommodation.
- providing additional financial support through the Universal Credit system to ensure that people are not pushed into homelessness.
- protecting renters from evictions
- rapid access to testing for the virus and healthcare assistance for people sleeping rough and living in hostels and shelter accommodation
- recognising frontline workers in homelessness organisations as an emergency service
- allocating an emergency budget to fund homelessness services”.