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Cornwall Council has announced plans to provide safe and secure accommodation for hundreds of people currently without a permanent home.

Olly Monk Bunkabins

Councillor Olly Monk in front of some of the Bunkabins being used to provide temporary accommodation

Due to the exceptional number of people the council has accommodated as a result of covid, up to 1,000 people — from single-person households to families — are currently in temporary or emergency accommodation in Cornwall, including in hotels, which do not offer security in terms of availability, especially over weekends and during the holiday season.

The council’s cabinet portfolio holder for housing and planning, Olly Monk, said: “It’s simply unacceptable to rely on hotels to house people while we help to find them a longer-term solution. 

“With that in mind, today we are announcing plans to create Council-owned accommodation, where local people in need can be housed without worrying about being asked to leave at a moment’s notice. 

“The council needs to own this provision so we can offer security of tenure to the families and individuals in need. This will not only provide peace of mind and increased wellbeing for those being housed, but it will also make more financial sense.” 

Solutions being looked at include purchasing around 100 park homes to be put on ‘pop-up’ sites, which would be able to house four people each and so provide a home for families. 

Several locations around Cornwall — focusing on the places that are most in need and that are close to local services  —  have been identified and are currently in the process of being costed and designed. 

Sustainable

Another accommodation type will be ‘Bunkabin’ self-contained units, such as those that have been successfully put in place by the council in Truro and Penzance during the covid response. These are single-berth, with cooking and shower facilities. A first batch of 30 more units will be arriving next month to be set up, with more planned to follow, with various locations being considered. 

The council’s aim is to provide hundreds of beds this way by the autumn, and then to eliminate the need to use short-term hotel provision by the end of this year. 

In addition, the council is in the process of acquiring and refurbishing more than 100 homes, primarily for families to provide medium-term temporary accommodation. 

It currently costs the Council around £6m a year to house those in need of emergency and temporary accommodation  — and this could rise to £10m this year. The costs of the park homes and Bunkabins will be met by the existing budget, diverted instead to this more sustainable way of helping those in need.