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Cornwall Council is today announcing ambitious plans to provide safe and secure accommodation for hundreds of people currently without a permanent home in Cornwall.
Due to the exceptional number of people the Council has accommodated as a result of Covid, up to 1,000 people – from single-person households to families – are currently in temporary or emergency accommodation in Cornwall, including in hotels, which do not offer security in terms of availability, especially over weekends and during the holiday season.
The Council is addressing this as a matter of urgency to give those in need of such accommodation somewhere safe to stay without the prospect of having to move at short notice.
The Council’s Cabinet portfolio for housing and planning, Olly Monk, said: “It's simply unacceptable to rely on hotels to house people while we help to find them a longer-term solution.
“With that in mind, today we are announcing plans to create Council-owned accommodation where local people in need can be housed without worrying about being asked to leave at a moment’s notice.
“The Council needs to own this provision so we can offer security of tenure to the families and individuals in need. This will not only provide peace of mind and increased wellbeing for those being housed, but it will also make more financial sense.”
Solutions being looked at include purchasing around 100 park homes to be put on ‘pop-up’ sites, which would be able to house four people each and so provide a home for families.
Several locations around Cornwall – focusing on the places that are most in need and that are close to local services – have been identified and are currently in the process of being costed and designed.
Another accommodation type will be 'Bunkabin' self-contained units, such as those that have been successfully put in place by the Council in Truro and Penzance during the Covid response.
These are single-berth with cooking and shower facilities. A first batch of 30 more units will be arriving next month to be set-up, with more planned to follow, with various locations being considered.
Both of these moves will be on top of existing temporary accommodation currently used by the Council.
It is the Council’s aim to make the new park homes and cabins available as soon as possible.
The Council’s aim is to provide hundreds of beds this way by the autumn and then to eliminate the need to use short-term hotel provision by the end of this year.
In addition, the Council is in the process of acquiring and refurbishing more than 100 homes, primarily for families to provide medium-term temporary accommodation.
Councillor Monk added: “We know we are facing a massive challenge in terms of housing, exacerbated by the pandemic, and we’re acting with urgency to deal with the immediate issue of those in need of emergency accommodation that offers security.
“The first site we can confirm will be used is at New County Hall, where we can provide 15 of the Bunkabins.
“This is just the beginning of how we address the extraordinary challenges the housing market is facing.
“This is the immediate issue. At the same time, we are going to provide as many affordable homes to rent and buy and homes for social rent – Council houses – as possible, working with our existing housing partners to maximise the acceleration of this plan. We will shortly be announcing our Housing Delivery Accelerator Plan.”
It currently costs the Council around £6million a year to house those in need of emergency and temporary accommodation – and this could rise to £10million this year. The costs of the park homes and Bunkabins will be met by the existing budget, diverted instead to this more sustainable way of helping those in need.
This will ensure that anyone in need of short-term accommodation provided by the Council can be safe in the knowledge that they can stay there until a more suitable arrangement is found.
Communities will be asked for their thoughts when potential sites are found and will also be asked to come forward with their own suggestions. The Council will provide updates over the coming weeks and months as new sites are being planned and brought forward.