Homeless people in Bristol could soon be offered a permanent place to live

210720-Anonymous homeless person in Bristol-ITV News West Country
More than 400 homeless people have been placed in hotels and hostels during lockdown Credit: ITV News West Country

Hundreds of homeless people living in hotels and hostels during the coronavirus crisis could soon be offered a permanent place to live, ITV News has learned.

Talks between the city council and private property owners have reached an advanced stage to prevent many vulnerable people from returning to the streets. 

It comes as charities say many homeless people have shared that they would rather commit a crime and be sent to prison, to have a roof over their heads after lockdown.

Thousands of homeless people, including rough sleepers, were rapidly brought into safe accommodation at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. Credit: ITV News

More than 400 homeless people have been taken off the streets and placed in five hotels and hostels around Bristol. 

Some have told ITV News West Country that rather than being offered the sanctuary and safety they crave, they've been forced to move on.

Aron Walker says he was bullied out of his accommodation, after 4 weeks, for defending himself and others against what he claims were aggressive security staff. 

Aron Walker Credit: ITV News West Country

"I had to leave a lot behind which I'll never get again," he said.

"Luckily a friend found somewhere to camp, I already had a tent lined up and I was sleeping rough again."

With central government support, emergency housing is costing the city council around £350,000 every single month. 

The scheme was due to end in a couple of weeks but that's expected to be extended to September 

That will give the council precious time to try to persuade private property owners to house as many as 270 of those currently homeless in Bristol.

It's hoped that close to 300 homeless people will be housed by private property owners Credit: ITV News West Country

However, some have given up waiting for a better future. Two homeless people reportedly died in a hostel after taking the Zombie drug Spice. 

Charity worker Hayley Jennings, of Helping Homeless Believe, says her caseload has increased significantly during lockdown.

"There's no quick fix for those we work with," she adds.

"A lot of them have lived on the streets a very long time and have suffered a lot of trauma, maybe abuse so just placing them in a house and leaving them to their own devices is not necessarily going to be the answer to all of their problems."