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Residents' views wanted on updated approach to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping

News release from 12/11/2020

CAMBRIDGE City Council is inviting residents, visitors and people who work in Cambridge to help develop its latest strategy to continue tackling and preventing homelessness and rough sleeping. 

The council has published its Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy for the period 2021-26, which sets out how it will work with a wide range of partner organisations in the coming years to meet these objectives: 

  • Preventing people from becoming homeless 
  • Where homelessness cannot be avoided, helping people to find suitable accommodation 
  • Minimising rough sleeping 
  • Ensuring housing outcomes for residents reflect the council’s vision: ‘One Cambridge, Fair For All.’ 

The draft strategy proposes meeting these objectives by focusing on five priority areas: 

  1. Supporting those at risk of homelessness to remain in their homes  Improving access to a range of permanent accommodation 
  2. Minimising the use of temporary and emergency accommodation 
  3. Improving access to, and effectiveness of, support services  
  4. Preventing rough sleeping 
  5. Breaking the cycle of chronic and repeat street homelessness and rough sleeping 

To read the full draft strategy and take part in an online survey people can visit https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations/homelessness-and-rough-sleeping-strategy-consultation or phone 01223 457918 for a printed version. 

The new strategy for the five years from 2021 will build upon the work undertaken by the council and its partners to address homelessness and rough sleeping. Together they have achieved a great deal in recent years in Cambridge, including: 

  • Vastly improving access to the private rented sector for families 
  • Consistently increasing, year on year the outcomes for households who are threatened with homelessness  
  • Helping many households who have been served with S21 (‘no fault’) eviction notices to negotiate extra time to plan a move  
  • Providing financial support to top up shortfalls in Housing Benefit, whilst working with households to improve their income and longer-term employment prospects (the ‘HB+’ scheme) 
  • Achieving coveted accreditation by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) as a housing authority that supports survivors of domestic abuse 

Some actions included in the draft strategy that the council is planning in order to build on these successes include: 

  • Reducing the level of people being evicted by family and friends, through earlier interventions 
  • Exploring further tenancy rescue solutions for private tenants, including the potential for targeted grants and loans 
  • A £750,000 fund for 2020/21 for the benefit of homelessness prevention and relief  
  • 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 
  • 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 and housing association leased pods 
  • A ‘Housing First’ programme for the benefit of long-term rough sleepers 
  • A dedicated street-life partnership group set up to help enduring rough sleepers into accommodation.  

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing said: “There are many factors that can contribute to people becoming homeless, but it can happen to almost anyone. Rough sleeping and begging on the streets are obvious indicators of homelessness, but many other people are affected in less obvious ways in Cambridge such as people living in temporary accommodation, those who are threatened with eviction or living in poor quality housing. 

“Our Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy aims to do even more work at an earlier stage to recognise people who may be experiencing difficulties with an insecure housing situation before they are at risk of becoming homeless. 

“If you live or work in Cambridge we would very much like to hear your views on our proposals for reducing rough sleeping and homelessness in Cambridge by providing secure housing for all, which continues to be one of the city council’s very top priorities.”