Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has launched the city’s new rough sleeping shelter and said he will defy a government order preventing failed asylum seekers from getting help.
The Labour Mayor, who was directly elected in 2012, unveiled a brand new £250,000 homeless facility called Labre House in the city centre.
The four-storey building is currently operating as a shelter for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents over the winter, but will soon undergo a renovation to turn it into a hub offering a range of services such as substance and alcohol support, outreach teams and even GP services to help rough sleepers.
Mr Anderson eventually wants to help rough sleepers access benefits and housing advice as well as helping them get back in touch with family and friends by providing IT and telephone services.
But, in a break with national policy, the centre will also help failed asylum seekers who the Government has said have “no recourse to public funds”.
Mr Anderson said the centre, which is named after the Catholic patron saint of the homeless, Benedict Joseph Labre, is part of his plan to “end rough sleeping in Liverpool once and for all”.
The council already spends £11m a year on tackling homelessness, he added.
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Mr Anderson said: “I can’t begin to imagine how desperate it is to find yourself out on the streets of our city – especially during the winter.
“I simply will not tolerate a situation where our fellow human beings feel they have no other option than to live on the streets. This includes those deemed to have ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’. Any rough sleeper will get help.
“We will shortly be launching a campaign ‘Always Room Inside’ to explain how we are working to address rough sleeping and ensure there is, literally always room inside – day and night – and what the public can do to help us by signposting any rough sleepers they meet towards our services.”
The news comes after a report by the National Audit Office in September found the number of rough sleepers in the UK has soared by 134 per cent since the Conservatives came to power.
An autumn snapshot survey last year record 4,134 rough sleepers while the number of homeless families receiving temporary accommodation rose by 48 per cent to 59,000.