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Council to buy 250 properties for emergency accommodation

Council to buy 250 properties for emergency accommodation

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 5:29pm 20th December 2018.

Photo: Stock image

By Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Cornwall Council has agreed to spend almost £40million on buying 250 properties which will be used for emergency accommodation for people who find themselves homeless.

The council’s Cabinet unanimously agreed to use £10m from housing receipts and to borrow £29.3m to fund the scheme.

Under the proposals the council will buy a mix of properties across Cornwall which can be used by single people and families who find themselves homeless.

It is hoped that by having the properties available for use the council can cut the use of B&B accommodation which can often be unsuitable and is also expensive.

In 2017/18 the council paid £1.9m to B&Bs to house people who were homeless.

There is also a six-week limit for how long families with children can be placed in B&B accommodation which the council has admitted it sometimes breaches.

Councillors heard that there are currently around 270 households in temporary accommodation and a third of them are in B&Bs or hotels.

Andrew Mitchell, Cabinet member for housing, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity and something that everyone on this council should be proud of.

“We have carried out significant work with our partners to tackle homelessness and provide accommodation to those in need but more needs to be done.”

Cllr Mitchell said that in 2017 there were almost 10,000 approaches to the council for housing advice and 803 homeless applications were taken.

He said the new temporary accommodation would help families to maintain their support network by being able to stay in their local area as well as helping them to keep employment and keep children in schools.

Sally Hawken, Cabinet member for children, said: “I can’t emphasise enough how important this is to families.

“Some of these families are in temporary accommodation and B&Bs where it is not easy to feed your children properly.”

She said that the scheme would have a knock-on effect in helping social workers who often have involvement with children who are affected by homelessness.

Truro councillor Loic Rich told councillors of a young lady with a baby who had approached him for help after she found herself homeless.

He said: “She literally had nowhere to go. A young mother with a baby who was considering spending the night in a tent.”

Cllr Rich said he fully supported the project and added: “B&Bs are totally unsuitable for children, particularly when there are other vulnerable people in these B&Bs and their behaviour.

“I think it is a really good proposal as it creates a safe place for people who are vulnerable, who have lost their homes and their social and support network.”

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