Homeless families housed in Birmingham hotels moved ahead of Commonwealth Games

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

Homeless families being housed in Birmingham hotels have been moved out of the city at short notice to make way for Commonwealth Games visitors.

The city council confirmed up to 20 families have been moved to nearby Coventry for the duration of the sporting event, which starts on Thursday and runs for 12 days.

But local campaigning charity All Birmingham’s Children said it is concerned that many more families have been affected, after hearing reports some have been relocated to Dudley as well.

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“It can’t be right, to take some of the most vulnerable families and effectively pick them up and place them outside of the city. This is an unjustifiable decision,” said the charity’s chair, Eddie O’Hara.

“There is an irony that the Commonwealth Games is supposed to be about this large family coming into the city to celebrate things and yet we as a city do this.”

A number of hotels in the city have sold out of rooms during the event, with some charging double or triple normal rates.

O’Hara said he had written to all MPs and councillors in the city to draw their attention to the issue and ask them to speak up, as well as contacting the hotels to ask what support was being provided for affected residents.

“The families that we are talking about, some of them have fled domestic abuse, some of them have children who had to be taken out of school early, some of them work in Birmingham,” he said. “Some of them have been in these hotels for months and had less than 24 hours notice they were being moved out.”

Birmingham Live reported that one mother and her three children, who were left homeless after a gas explosion, were told they were being relocated from a Holiday Inn in Birmingham to Coventry.

She refused the offer as it would mean moving away from her job and support network, so has left to go to stay with family instead.

“I’m a single mum and I don’t have any support. My support networks are here so I can’t go far away,” she said.

Birmingham suffers from a chronic shortage of social housing, and there are more than 580 families in temporary accommodation in the city, which includes hotel and bed and breakfast rooms.

Although designed as a temporary measure, larger families and those with complex needs can remain in hotels for months while suitable homes are found.

Earlier this year the council converted a 419-bed former university halls of residence into accommodation for homeless families to try to move them out of hotels.

A spokesperson for Birmingham city council said most hotels they work with are continuing to accommodate homeless families during the Commonwealth Games, but in cases where the hotel is fully booked, families are being relocated.

“In the case of when a hotel is fully booked, we have agreed with them to move families to alternative hotels for the duration of the Games. We have ensured that they are provided with alternative arrangements including additional meals and support.

“In total, this relates to less than 20 families being moved to Coventry. However, in recognition of the disruption and uncertainty that this will have on the families affected we have been liaising with them individually. We are grateful to the hotels concerned for working with us to provide alternative accommodation and extra support during this very busy period.”

The Holiday Inn said it could not comment on the issue as all bookings are confidential.