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Cambridge City Council

Action plan to help people who have been sleeping rough move into longer term accommodation

News release from 29 June 2020

AN ACTION plan to support people who have until recently been sleeping rough move into longer term accommodation is being implemented by Cambridge City Council.

Since the start of the Coronavirus lockdown, the council and its partners in the community have found safe accommodation for more than 140 people who had been sleeping rough or were at risk of homelessness.

These people were given self-isolating accommodation at properties owned by the council, hoteliers, bed and breakfast providers, colleges and some private landlords.

The council has since been working with a range of organisations to find longer term solutions for these people and has already been successful in a number of cases.

Now, the council is implementing a plan to continue this support that includes:

  • Conducting assessments of individuals’ support and accommodation needs and assessing the help partners can continue to offer;
  • Continuing help for people with a range of needs, some of which are extremely complex, to make the most of the accommodation options that are available including hostels, pods (including 16 new ones planned across three sites by the end of the summer) and housing association leased pods;
  • Making the most of accommodation available in council properties;
  • Making accommodation available through the private rented sector via the council’s ‘Social Lettings Agency’, Town Hall Lettings (THL). This involves council officers actively approaching private landlords and suppliers of student accommodation to ask what accommodation they can provide;
  • Freeing up temporary accommodation by offering direct lets to households via the council or housing associations to enable others to take their place;
  • Bidding successfully, in partnership with the county council, for government funding to pay for 3.5 full time housing support officer roles to support rough sleepers and homeless people;

Securing government funding for a modular homes worker and a shared supported housing worker;

Other future initiatives could include making available some of the council’s newest accommodation and ways of supporting those people who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF).

The government recently announced £105million to help rough sleepers in the UK and the council awaits further information on how this funding will be allocated.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “We understand that people who sleep rough are vulnerable and need support and that is why we are determined to continue doing all we can to help them.

“Since lockdown we have worked with other public bodies, charities, faith groups and volunteers across Cambridge to help people to provide accommodation for those who had been living on the streets.

“Now, we want to help these people turn a corner in their lives with a solution to their housing situation and support with health or personal issues that they may have.”

Cllr Johnson added: “There are a number of people who we have been able to help and they are ready to move to homes where they can be more settled. Now, we are looking for more landlords willing to rent to people so I would encourage anyone who can help to get in touch with us.

“It is sadly true that some rough sleepers choose not to engage with us and we cannot compel them to do so. We also know that even before the Coronavirus crisis, there was a flow of rough sleepers to Cambridge and this continues at a time when demand for our services has gone up and our income streams have gone down.

“Nevertheless, we are determined to do all we can to support these most vulnerable of people and we will keep our comprehensive action plan under review to see what more we can do.”

Anyone concerned about somebody they think may be sleeping rough at this time can notify the council via the website or by phoning Streetlink on 0300 500 0914.

In the meantime, the council’s broader Housing Advice services continue. If any resident is threatened with homelessness during the current period, they can contact the council on 01223 457918.