EMPTY hotel rooms and Airbnb flats in Edinburgh have been taken over to house homeless families with children who were stuck in unsuitable bed and breakfasts.
A total of 120 hotel bedrooms - unoccupied due to the coronavirus pandemic - and 65 flats, including former Airbnb properties, are now being used as safe accommodation for homeless families and rough sleepers.
The city council had been in breach of the law which says families with children must not be left in unsuitable B&B accommodation for more than a week.
The authority has been pledging for the past two years to end the practice but was unable to do so.
It has spent more than £28 million on unsuitable accommodation for homeless people between 2016 and 2019, with one company ranking in more than £15m.
But now coronavirus has offered an opportunity to solve the problem temporarily because hotel bookings have dried up and Airbnb landlords have also seen business slump.
Council leader Adam McVey said: “We’ve worked hard to find safe places to stay for everyone who is or becomes homeless during this pandemic. With our partners, we’ve already sourced 120 hotel rooms and 65 extra flats and, in a major result for the city, we now have no families with children living in B&Bs.
“We’ve successfully moved the families we care for into suitable flats – including properties sourced from the private sector. We’re also determined that this will remain the case for as long as the coronavirus crisis continues. This is a very challenging time and I’m pleased too that, with our partners, we’re able to support those families with welfare services, food parcels, and anything else they may need.”
Charities have warned a permanent solution will need suitable properties to be made available.