Tell us how we can work together to tackle homelessness

The Council wants to hear from organisations that work with the homeless and from people who have experienced homelessness or been threatened with homelessness as it works to update its Homelessness Strategy.

The Council is holding a consultation to help us set out how we can continue to work with partners to help people who are, or who are threatened with becoming, homeless.

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People sleeping rough need help to get off the streets and put a roof over their head, but even if you do have a roof over your head, you can still be ‘homeless’.

People who are sofa surfing, staying in a hostel or bed and breakfast or living in poor conditions that affect their health are all homeless and need help to find a permanent place to call home. 

Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for homes Andrew Mitchell said:  “We have a homelessness strategy in place but need to update it to reflect what is happening now.” 

“Tackling homelessness is a priority for Cornwall Council.  It is something that can affect anyone at any time.  Every day our residents are under increasing financial pressure as a result of high housing costs, low wages and significant welfare reform. Homelessness can also come about because of relationship breakdown, debt and through ill health.  More and more families and individuals are facing homelessness and we need to work together to help find solutions.”

Andrew Mitchell adds: “Having a coordinated, multi-agency approach to tackling rough sleeping is paying off and we need to make sure that the same principles of co-operation and working with partners are applied to the wider issue of homelessness.”

Having a coordinated, multi-agency strategy to tackle rough sleeping, the most visible form of homelessness, is paying off.  Official figures released in December 2018 show that whilst Cornwall still has a relatively high number of rough sleepers, 53 people were reported as rough sleeping compared to 68 reported in November 2017 and 99 the year before that. This 46% reduction in the total number of rough sleepers recorded in Cornwall since November 2016 bucks the national trend.

New initiatives to help rough sleepers are in the pipeline including the Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub, which will be open and staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer help to anyone who is at imminent risk of, or already, rough sleeping.  There are also plans for a local lettings agency to help single people and couples with no children, who are at risk of having to sleep rough, get into private rented accommodation.

Andrew Mitchell said: “I was there at the launch of the Rough Sleeping Reduction Strategy in 2017 and we have achieved a great deal over the last two years – including nearly halving the number of rough sleepers counted on our streets. But more needs to be done to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place.

Since April 2018 Cornwall Council received 8,784 (up from 8,659 the previous year) approaches for help from households threatened with homelessness. Over 78% of those were given advice and help so that they could avoid becoming homeless. 

There were around 250 households in temporary accommodation in Cornwall at any one time with around a third of those in bed and breakfast or hotels because the Council does not have enough temporary accommodation of its own to offer them.

The Council is working to bridge that gap by committing to buy 250 homes for people in need of temporary accommodation.  The homes will be spread throughout Cornwall so that those who find themselves in need of a temporary home whilst they are helped to find a more permanent option, can still be near work, school and family.

The Council is also at the forefront of building new affordable homes for local people to buy and rent in Cornwall.  The Council is directly investing £200m to directly deliver 1,000 new homes built in the right locations with the right infrastructure around them.

Last year, 3,400 new homes were built in Cornwall, and over 900 of these were affordable housing. People wishing to rent or buy one of these affordable homes must have a connection to Cornwall and already be living here.

Andrew Mitchell adds: “We want anyone who is concerned about homelessness in Cornwall to give us their views on how we can work better together to really get to grips with this issue.”

The consultation runs until Wednesday 07 August 2019.  Further details are on the Council’s Homelessness Strategy Review web pages.


Story posted 23 May 2019