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Covid-19: Continued support for homeless in Cornwall after crisis ends

Covid-19: Continued support for homeless in Cornwall after crisis ends

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:50am 26th May 2020.

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Cornwall Council has said that it is committed to continue helping homeless people get off the street even if funding made available during the coronavirus crisis ends.

The government asked all local authorities to ensure that homeless people were provided with accommodation during the pandemic to help protect them and prevent the spread of the virus.

But last week it was reported that the government was set to wind up funding which had been provided to councils to help pay for the accommodation.

Cornwall Council has carried out a number of initiatives in response to the government request including placing homeless people and those who had been in temporary emergency accomodation in holiday parks and affordable homes which had not yet been let or sold.

And this week the council confirmed that it was getting ready to provide shipping container-style homes for homeless people in Truro and Penzance.

"We have been doing a lot of work on this with support from local hotels and holiday parks to provide rough sleepers with accommodation.

“It is not always easy, some people that are rough sleeping choose to do that. In many cases we have managed to talk with the rough sleepers about the issues and challenges at this time and many people have come into accommodation.”

Council leader, Julian German

Council chief executive Kate Kennally said that the authority was keen to continue helping homeless people.

She said: “Over the weekend there was concern by local authorities that there was a risk that government funding that has been made available to us taking people off the street might not be available in the future.

“We in Cornwall have committed in our homelessness strategy that we work to find accommodation that will meet the needs of people in Cornwall.

“We have a very strong multi-agency approach working with homeless organisations in the voluntary sector and our own housing team at Cornwall Housing to look at ways in which we can support people.”

She said that she was “confident” that Cornwall was taking the right approach towards helping homeless people.

And she added: “We urge the government not to turn its back on homeless needs at this time. This needs to be underpinned by long term sustainable funding so that we can make sure that everyone has a home.”

The temporary homes being set up in Truro and Penzance will provide 20 units for people to live in.

Each unit provides high quality emergency accommodation, with kitchenette, bed, living space and bathroom facilities. They are specifically designed to provide all essential amenities so that residents can move in quickly during this time of essential social distancing and self-isolation. The units will be allocated to those in need of emergency temporary housing.

Cornwall Housing is managing the sites and providing support staff and 24/7 security.

"This Council will do all we possibly can to keep people safe during this incredibly difficult time.

“As well as continuing to work with local hotels and using our own housing stock, we have explored a number of Council owned sites which may be suitable for locating emergency temporary accommodation so that vulnerable people have somewhere safe to stay during this health crisis.

“My thanks go to those staff that have dropped everything to deliver this incredibly complex project in record time.” 

Cornwall Council Cabinet member for homes, Andrew Mitchell

Under emergency legislation published by the government in response to Covid-19, additional freedoms have been granted under permitted development rights for provision of necessary emergency accommodation to support the response.  

A condition of using these permitted development rights is that use of the site currently has to end by no later than December 31,  2020. 

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