LOCAL hotels have responded in support of Cambridge City Council’s assurance that no one provided with accommodation during the Coronavirus emergency effort, and prepared to work with local homelessness services, will need to return to the streets.
When lockdown was imposed in March this year the council responded by making sure that there was accommodation available for everyone who had no place of their own in which to isolate.
More than 200 offers of accommodation have been made overall and, at its peak, more than 140 people were being provided with free accommodation and food by the council and its partners. Many of these partners were volunteers, giving up their own time and resources.
Now, as the big hotel chains return to normal and people temporarily accommodated there are needing to leave, it has fallen to local small providers, many of whom have been badly hit by the lockdown, to come forward and offer rooms so that the council honour that early promise.
Since the start of August two hotels in Tenison Road have joined a third there in offering rooms to homeless people, to help ensure that there remains a place for everyone prepared to work with the council and homelessness services.
Claire Bracher, the manager of one of the local hotels said: “When the council approached me asking if I could help, I initially had some reservations as this is something I never anticipated that I might get involved in.
“My hotel normally provides accommodation for visiting business people, academics and tourists. However, the current pandemic has changed a lot and it has bothered me that I have had some empty rooms when I know there are people out there who could use them, so I decided to do my bit.
“I look forward to being able to welcome back my usual guests in the future, but for now I am pleased to be able to help the council help some of the most vulnerable in the city.”
Work is now well under way to find more permanent accommodation for people housed in hotels and many have already moved on.
But the council is also still appealing to property owners and letting agents to come forward if they could offer one-bedroom or shared rental accommodation to help the council meet its objective of finding a suitable, affordable housing offer for all who need it. The council can pay for accommodation upfront and will underwrite any damages caused by new tenants.
Anyone with accommodation to let can initially contact the council’s social letting agency, Town Hall Lettings, at email@example.com putting ‘Covid accommodation’ in the subject box.
Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing said: “We are extremely grateful to all of the partners who have provided rooms for those Cambridge residents who had been sleeping rough, or were vulnerably housed. They really have made an enormous difference to many people’s lives.
“Now as we move into a different period of the pandemic, we are equally grateful to those who can continue to provide safe accommodation to those who need it, as part of our ongoing work to find more permanent solutions to people’s housing situation and provide the help and support they need.
“If you own accommodation that you would like to see put to great use, I would urge you to get in touch. By doing so you could be making a huge difference to someone’s life.”