A top council manager has admitted the authority is ‘failing’ to provide enough temporary accommodation for people who have been left homeless. The current housing crisis in Cornwall has seen more and more people unable to find suitable and affordable accommodation and turning desperately to the council for help.
Councilors were told the number of households in Cornwall in temporary accommodation had risen from 250 before the pandemic to a current level of over 700. Some feared it was spiraling out of control.
Phil Mason, strategic director of the Cornish Council for Sustainable Growth and Development at County Hall, highlighted current issues with temporary housing at a meeting of the Neighborhoods Monitoring and Review Committee.
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Councilors had discussed a report outlining the council’s results delivery plans which aim to set goals for the council over the next four years. This document covers all areas of counseling, but Mr. Mason focused on housing.
He said: “At the moment we are unable to provide enough temporary accommodation. It has an impact on the people of Cornwall and on our budget. When we put people in hotels, Travelodges and Premier Inns, it’s not good for us. This is about providing sufficient temporary accommodation, but also about preventing homelessness in the first place. »
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The council has taken steps to provide more temporary accommodation, including putting up cabin-style houses on council-owned land which can be used by single people and acquiring inns, lodges and holiday parks which could be used to shelter the homeless.
Committee member Dominic Fairman said he was concerned the council was ‘slipping’ on temporary accommodation, adding: ‘The word is temporary, we don’t manage that. It’s a band-aid. »
Mr Mason said he disagreed with the advice ‘sliding’ but said he was facing growing demand, adding: ‘During the pandemic we have gone from 250 households in need of temporary accommodation to over 700 households in need of temporary accommodation.
“If we had 250 households, we would have them in decent accommodation and we could probably get them out. But with more people in need of temporary accommodation than people leaving it, we are unable to do so. The rental housing market has all but disappeared across Cornwall.
Mr Mason said the council should have the ambition to tackle the problem and that “we need to focus on the people who need us most, the people who are homeless or about to be homeless are the ones who need us the most”.