As part of an ongoing commitment to tackle the housing crisis in Cornwall, Cornwall Council has worked with Harbour Housing, a homelessness charity, and the owners of a former surf lodge in Newquay to secure all-year use of the property for the next two years.
The scheme will see 20 beds provided for local people who would otherwise be homeless and sleeping on the streets. During their stay at the property, the residents are provided with intensive support to transition towards longer-term accommodation of their own and assists with the Council’s aims of tackling the challenges Cornwall currently faces.
Olly Monk, portfolio holder for housing and planning, said: “We know that the combination of an ever-growing shortage of rented properties and escalating levels of rent are leaving more and more people in Cornwall with nowhere to live. Add in the impact of the rising cost of living and the additional pressures on accommodation in key tourist areas such as Newquay and we are facing a perfect storm.
“We are determined to do everything we can to support local people all year round, not just in winter. Schemes such as this one in Newquay will not only enable us to provide short term accommodation for some of our most vulnerable residents but also help us to encourage them on the next stage of their journey. ”
During the past two years the council has used funding from its cold weather provision scheme to lease the building to provide short term emergency accommodation for people sleeping rough in Newquay during the winter months.
This government funded scheme, originally designed to enable local authorities to lease hotels, hostels, B&Bs, holiday lets and other properties to provide emergency accommodation for homeless people during periods of extreme cold weather, was expanded to prevent vulnerable people sleeping outdoors during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, many of these properties are not available during the busy holiday period – creating even greater challenges for local people in urgent housing need and the organisations seeking to help them.
In previous years, at the end of the winter season, the surf lodge has gone back to its usual role of providing holiday accommodation after Easter. This has left residents who had stayed there trying to find somewhere safe and secure to live during the peak summer months where pressures on the availability of short-term accommodation is exacerbated.
This year – thanks to the hard work of the Council’s rough sleeping team – the owners of the surf lodge have agreed to extend the Council’s lease until 31 March 2024 so that the building can be used to provide all year-round short term accommodation for the next two years.
The project is being managed by Harbour Housing, who will also provide specialist onsite support to help residents transition into longer-term accommodation and consider their wider needs around education, training and volunteering. This will help to ensure that they are ready to live independently in more settled accommodation in the future and don’t end up returning to a life on the streets.
The Newquay scheme is being delivered as part of the authority’s short term accommodation and resettlement (STAR) programme and will provide 20 rooms for single people who were former rough sleepers.
The average length of stay for each resident is expected to be around six months, with transitional ‘move on’ support available for up to a further 12 weeks.
Work to transform the property for its new use as part of the STAR project has recently been completed and has seen a fully operational kitchen designed and fitted for residents to prepare their own meals as previously there were no such facilities available on-site.
“This is a great project which will make a huge difference to the lives of some of our most vulnerable local people” said Olly Monk. “We are very grateful for the help we have received from Newquay Town Council and Newquay Drop in and Share Centre (DISC), as well as from the local police, social services and other agencies. I would also like to thank the local Cornwall Councillors for their support.”
Harriet Spalding, team lead for High Intensity Projects at Harbour Housing said: “The STAR projects make a real difference by helping people who would otherwise be homeless to transition into secure accommodation and it’s a real pleasure to be part of the latest project here in Newquay.
“After the end of the Cold Weather Provision, we were all determined to ensure that those who needed us were able to continue receiving support and make progress as they look towards a future where they can live independently in their own secure home.
“The STAR project is one that really works and we’re proud to be working alongside Cornwall Council and other key partners to help play a part in reducing the level of homelessness in Cornwall.”
A resident currently staying at the STAR project in Newquay said: “It’s really good here. It got me off the streets, it gave me somewhere to be - when you’re on the streets everything’s so much harder.
“Being here you’ve got somewhere to be, you can get yourself back on your feet…It’s really nice and welcoming, there’s always staff here and if you’ve got any questions, they’re always happy to help, always happy and cheerful.”