Jesuit calls on religious congregations to shelter the homeless

Religious in England and Wales have been asked to offer space in their buildings to vulnerable people who face street homelessness as the emergency housing scheme put in place for the pandemic draws to a close.

Hundreds of vulnerable people will urgently need accommodation by the end of July, when the hotels and hostels currently housing street homeless people reopen for business.

Some 5,400 people who were housed in emergency accommodation for the three-month lockdown now face being made homeless. 1,200 people were moved into hotels from the streets in Greater London alone.

While the Government has announced extra funding for housing support, that funding will be unavailable for those street homeless people with no recourse to public funds, like some migrants and asylum seekers. Caritas Westminster estimates that this group makes up 70 per cent of the people currently sheltering in hotels in Greater London.

In a direct plea to Congregations in England and Wales this week Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, the chair of Westminster Justice and Peace Commission said: “Have you got buildings that you are no longer using or could spare temporarily, which could be adapted to house the many homeless who are about to find themselves back on the streets as the lockdown eases?”

Any congregation that might be in a position to help is asked to email: merielwoodward@rcdow.org.uk 

Fr Robinson’s call, which was posted on the website for the Conference of Religious in England and Wales, comes as Caritas Westminster appealed for any accommodation across London and Hertfordshire that might be used to house those individuals. 

To read the full story in The Tablet, click here.