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Council launches Next Steps programme to provide further housing solutions for homeless people

News release from 20/07/2020

CAMBRIDGE City Council is today launching Cambridge Next Steps, a programme to further tackle homelessness in Cambridge – by providing a series of brand new modular homes and appealing for support from land and property owners.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, today inspected a prototype for a new range of single-person modular homes.

These cutting-edge homes, designed by local housebuilder Hill, will be offered to people with a history of homelessness as a stepping-stone to re-establishing a stable lifestyle. Hill have pledged to create 200 such homes as part of its Foundation 200 programme.

The council has identified the first three sites for modular homes in the Next Steps programme from its own land, and will be working with experienced homelessness charities to ensure that the new tenants in each home will be provided with all the support they need to integrate fully into the local community.

As part of the Next Steps programme, and with the Coronavirus lockdown easing, the council is also appealing to landlords with empty accommodation and landowners with land which could be suitable for modular homes to play a part in alleviating the ongoing housing crisis in Cambridge.

The council is looking for offers of:

  • One-bedroom or shared rental accommodation which will be available for a minimum of six months,
  • Unoccupied or under-occupied land where Next Steps homes can be installed.

The council can pay for accommodation up-front and will underwrite any damages caused by new tenants. Any empty sites should be a minimum of 9m x 5m in size. If you have land or property which fits these descriptions, please contact the Housing Development team on 01223 457919 or housingdevelopment@cambridge.gov.uk

The new Next Steps programme forms part of the council’s affordable housing programme, which is currently on track to deliver over 500 new council homes. The current programme offers a range of specialist housing solutions for applicants, including the Housing First programme which is also aimed at formerly homeless residents.

Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, the council has been providing temporary accommodation for more than 100 of the city’s homeless residents since April, ensuring that they have been safely housed during the national lockdown.

The Foundation 200 modular homes will provide a new opportunity to move some of these residents into a safe and stable environment as lockdown guidelines change.

Individual modular homes are built in a British factory and delivered fully furnished to each site, right down to the toothbrush holder. They are designed to Future Homes Standards and are built to last 60 years with safety and security in mind, featuring steel frames and walls, and acoustic and thermal insulation that exceeds building regulations.

They were designed in partnership with a number of leading homelessness charities including The Connection at St Martin in the Fields, to ensure that they can meet the needs of homeless clients who may not have had continuous accommodation for some years.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “Since 2016, Hill have been a key partner for the council and have helped us ensure that Cambridge can achieve its ambitions for new council housing in years to come.”

“The Foundation 200 homes are sure to make a significant difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our community. We are pleased that our partnership with Hill has made us one of first local authorities in the UK to be able to offer them to our homeless residents.”

Cllr Richard Johnson said: “The council has met the challenge of Covid-19 and has ensured that homeless people in Cambridge have had a roof over their heads during the lockdown, but the job isn’t finished.

“We want to provide safe accommodation for the people of this city in the months and years to come, and the Next Steps project is one way for us to do this. The pandemic has shown us that we can completely rethink the way we provide housing in Cambridge and we’re determined not to go back to the way things were before.”

“A lot of people out there are just one pay packet away from becoming homeless themselves”, says Emma Fletcher, project director of Hill’s Foundation200 programme which has designed the modular homes. “That’s not just the people you see on the streets, but also the hidden homeless who are in unsuitable accommodation and really need some decent housing to move on with their lives”.