Councillor Kevin Price, the Labour-led City Council's Executive Councillor for Housing, has announced a major review of the Homelessness Strategy given the rising pressures from all forms of homelessness, including rough sleeping, over the last two years. The review, which will include a strategic action plan, will go to the Council's Housing Scrutiny Committee for debate in June.
Action to help rough sleepers and the rising homelessness crisis in the city will be debated at the Full Council meeting on Thursday 14 April, with Councillor Price detailing some of what the review will cover.
Councillor Price said: "The rising levels of homelessness are a major concern in Cambridge. Every case is an individual tragedy for those involved and the council's resources and ability to deal with them are being stretched to the limit. Rough sleeping is simply the most visible form of homelessness. We know the structural causes of homelessness are the acute shortage of affordable housing, inadequate housing benefit help, rising private sector rents and, increasingly, the ending of private sector tenancies for those in low paid jobs. Add to that cuts in mental health services and the threat to many hostels and support services from further cuts in housing benefit and it's a recipe for disaster."
Councillor Price added: "The work our officers already do in preventing homelessness is the main reason Cambridge is holding the line in the face of even greater national homelessness and rough sleeping figures but the line is at breaking point. Government may well be fed up of our persistence in asking for the freedoms we need to build more social rented homes and protect those we have but we know that is the key to breaking the cycle of homelessness."
The review comes at a time when the City Council figures show that homelessness applications are at an all time high, with applications for 2015/16 expected to have more than doubled over the last three years, and the number of rough sleepers counted on the streets rising by around 12% over the last 12 months.