Cambridge City Council will guarantee rent for landlords housing rough sleepersLouis Ashworth

Cambridge City Council has announced a new initiative whereby they will guarantee monthly rent payments for landlords willing to let their property to homeless individuals.

Funded with a grant of £96,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the scheme will last one year and cover up to twenty properties.

Homelessness is a major problem in Cambridge: in 2018-19, 158 people were verified as sleeping rough in the city across the year. Meanwhile the Office for National Statistics estimates that 13 homeless people died in the area between 2013-17.

The funding follows an almost £500,000 grant from the MHCLG in January which was earmarked towards recruiting and retaining specialist staff, building more housing units and establishing mentoring schemes for homeless people.

The new investment into the Council’s Next Steps Accomodation Programme totals over £960,000.

The individuals who will benefit from the new scheme will be rough sleepers who are leaving the emergency accommodation which was provided to them at the start of the pandemic or people who are moving on from hostel accommodation.

Since the national lockdown in March, the Council and its partners have found safe accommodation for over 140 people who had been sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness.

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Under the terms of the new initiative, each potential tenant will be assessed to ensure that they can manage the tenancy and will be supported by a dedicated worker provided by the Council.

The scheme will also be beneficial to participating landlords, many of whom have seen the Covid-19 pandemic damage their business, by providing financial security. A survey of over 4,500 landlords in May 2020 found that 29% expect to face a degree of financial hardship due to the virus.

The new scheme builds on work undertaken by Townhall Lettings (THL), the Council’s social letting agency which was established in 2014 with the aim of providing housing to single homeless people. THL offers fee-free management services, guaranteed rents, deposits to cover damages and support for tenants and landlords.

Councillor Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, said in a statement “It’s great news that we have received this new funding from the government.”

He continued: “Along with our partner organisations, we remain committed to supporting people with a history of sleeping rough as they move into safe, long-term accommodation - and the council will provide assistance to any landlords who can help us in this task.”


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Mark Allan, the Chief Executive of Jimmy’s Cambridge, a charity which has supported the city’s homeless community for 25 years, told Varsity that “Jimmy’s welcomes this offer to landlords from the City Council. A massive effort was made during the pandemic to get people who were homeless into a hotel or bed and breakfast as part of a public health initiative. And rather than having to move people out of the hotels back onto the street, the Council are looking to move people into further accommodation.”

He went on: “While this offer won’t help everyone, as it’s not easy finding affordable homes in Cambridge, each new opportunity is a big step forward and will help another group of people.”