Cambridge Council announce new strategy to reduce rough sleeping and homelessness
Last week, the city council’s Housing Security Committee announced a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy, which will be in place until 2026. In November 2019, the government recorded 33 people sleeping rough in Cambridge, a 20% increase on the previous year, and research by the BBC indicates the real figure could be up to five times higher.
The council will be creating a fund of c.£750,000 for 2020/21, which will be given to ‘partner organisations working on homelessness projects in Cambridge’ as grants. It will also try to reduce the number of ‘people being evicted by family and friends, through earlier interventions’ and will explore ‘further tenancy rescue solutions for private tenants, including the potential for targeted grants and loans.’
While the council will look to make ‘the most of accommodation available in council properties’, it will also seek to make ‘accommodation available through the private rented sector via the councils’ Social Lettings Agency’. This will see the council approach ‘private landlords and suppliers of student accommodation to ask what accommodation they can provide.’
The council also plans to establish a ‘dedicated street-life partnership group’, which will ‘help enduring rough sleepers into accommodation’.
The Executive Councillor for Housing, Richard Johnson, has stated that this new strategy ‘outlines how we intend to work in partnership with others to help prevent as many people as possible from experiencing homelessness.’
He further explained that while homelessness is often considered ‘mainly a problem for those seen sleeping on the streets’, in reality ‘there are many more Cambridge households experiencing housing stress’, such as the ‘hidden homeless’ sleeping on friends’ sofas because they have no alternative.
Johnson noted that the ‘council house building programme is part of the solution, as is work with developers to bring forward new affordable homes.’ The council has an ongoing project of building over 1,000 new council homes.
‘But it is not just about building. It is also about ensuring that the right support is available – to help people to remain in their homes or to find alternative accommodation where necessary,’ Johnson continued.
Chris Jenkin, the Chair of It Takes A City, a partnership which seeks to find ‘new ways to end rough sleeping due to homeless’, has welcomed the announcement of the council’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy. He said it ‘provides a comprehensive and ambitious set of plans and actions’.
‘Partnership working is key to this, and It Takes A City looks forward to continuing to leverage the very significant willingness of people and organisations across the wider community in Cambridge to work together to offer support, housing, and employment, enabling those with no home to have not just a house, but somewhere to call home,’ Jenkin explained.
Under this new strategy, it is likely that the following organisations will receive grants: Wintercomfort, Riverside Housing, It Takes A City, Centre 33, Cambridge Women’s Aid, Cambridge Cyrenians, and the Cambridge Housing Society.
To find out more about these organisations and how you could help them, please see the links below: