Council leases former student block to house Cambridge’s homeless
Homeless people in Cambridge receiving emergency housing during the pandemic will be supported until at least April in a building formerly used for student accommodation in the north of the city.
Cambridge City Council said it has signed a lease that will provide accommodation until the end of March for those currently being housed under emergency pandemic measures.
The government has asked councils across the country to make extra efforts to help the homeless off the streets throughout the pandemic. In Cambridge the measures being taken are being paid for through a combination of government and city council funding.
The council said it is currently supporting around 60 people in temporary accommodation as a result of the extra pandemic measures, 47 of whom are in hotels.
Around 14 people have also been housed in council homes that were empty because they are soon to be demolished as part of the city council’s restoration and expansion of its housing stock.
The council said it has maintained the emergency support throughout the year, and has now committed to a lease on a building to centralise its services and bring down costs.
A spokesperson for the council would not disclose the cost of the lease, citing commercial sensitivities, but said it is “significantly cheaper” than the current cost of housing and supporting people in hotels.
“Leasing this building brings together all in one place accommodation that was previously spread around town, which had led to complications in terms of things like the distribution of food and other essentials,” they said.
“Another big advantage of using this building is it is large enough to allow us to locate support services actually in the building itself, which was much more difficult to do when we were using hotels and scattered one-bedroom properties.
“It means we can work much more intensively with the people we are supporting.”
The spokesperson said people have already started moving into the building.
The building can also be split up into different bubbles and will allow for varied levels of support to address the varied needs of those being housed, the spokesperson said.
The council says it has made more than 200 offers of emergency accommodation over the course of the pandemic, and that the initiative housed 140 people at its peak - 76 people have moved on into longer-term housing.