The mayor of London has called for £24m of government funding to house homeless Londoners as temperatures drop and Covid cases in the capital rise.
Sadiq Khan has warned that hundreds of rough sleepers face the potentially fatal choice of freezing on the streets or risking Covid infection.
He said: “For homeless Londoners, this is a winter like no other, as they face the twin dangers of freezing conditions and Covid-19.”
Government earlier this year announced a national £10m winter fund alongside its £15m Protect programme to help rough sleepers this winter.
But an extra £24m is needed to “provide everyone who needs it with a safe space to sleep”, according to the mayor.
The funding would not only pay for accommodation but also help provide support for vulnerable people with drug and alcohol problems and young homeless people.
“The Mayor recognises the huge impact the pandemic has had on the lives of young people, with the instability, lack of opportunities and unstable employment forcing hundreds into homelessness for the first time,” City Hall said in a statement.
During the first wave of the pandemic, City Hall provided accommodation for more than 500 under-35s in hotels.
Since March, local government and charities have worked together to give more than 6,000 homeless people somewhere safe to stay in London, avoiding an estimated 7,000 infections and 90 deaths from Covid.