Hostel dwellers are low on the housing priority list and rough sleepers don’t want to go into a hostel situation, they want their own front door and somewhere to call home.
Funding from the Start Up Support Programme has helped a group of local residents in Cambridge who came together to address the high numbers of homeless people in their city.
The grant enabled It Takes a City to explore approaches to community led housing and with support from solicitors Anthony Collins, they applied for registration as a charitable community benefit society in 2020.
The Start Up Support funding also enabled the group to commission project management support, look at the feasibility of a site and submit a pre-application planning enquiry. Following a period of negotiation with planners, the group concluded that they should consider other sites, and build on existing good relationships with local authorities and major non-commercial landowners.
The group narrowed a long list of sites to two viable options, one owned by Cambridge City Council and one by the University of Cambridge and are now progressing plans for modular homes built off site.
The group developed a community share scheme, which raised nearly £50,000 for planning and project management costs. The group also developed relationships with two social investors who have committed to buying, for lease to the CLT, the first six modular homes which will be installed on the two sites. To increase the social impact of the project, the modular homes will be built by a partner organisation who will be providing a training environment for disadvantaged young people.
The group have also committed funds to the development of a marketing and fund-raising campaign to finance the two sites. A key learning point that the group believes they share with many community led housing projects, is the importance of mounting a significant publicity, engagement and awareness campaign.