17 Nov 2022
A major new report from Citizens Advice Cornwall highlights the scale and human cost of hidden homelessness in the county.
A public survey of 111 adults carried out by the charity over the summer found 29% did not have their own bedroom, 71% felt their living arrangements were unsatisfactory and half (52%) said they were at risk of homelessness.
Almost half (46%) said their where they lived was having a detrimental effect on their physical or mental health and a fifth felt they lived in overcrowded conditions.
One respondent said: “On my street in my village, there is only one other permanent resident. It is very depressing. I cannot afford rent and I certainly cannot afford to buy, so I will need to leave my village.”
Another added: “I finally found private rented accommodation after three months. It was a terrifying time. More social housing is needed in my area in Cornwall. No one can afford to live here!! This really is an urgent situation.”
Only four people of the 111 surveyed thought they would be living in their own home in a year’s time.
Citizens Advice Cornwall Chief Executive, Gill Pipkin, said:
“While street homelessness has rightly received lots of attention from charities and the media, we are also very concerned about the plight of people who are sofa surfing with friends and relatives, people who are still living with parents way beyond the age when they would normally move out and people forced to live together after their relationship has broken down because they simply can’t afford to move.
“While some of these people may not be in imminent danger of losing the roof over their head, our survey found it’s causing tensions in relationships and lots of anxiety about the future.”
Citizens Advice Cornwall’s Research and Campaigns Officer, Wailim Wong, said:
“Previous generations found it much easier to move out and move on when they were ready to leave the family home, but for increasing numbers of people this simply isn’t an option. Rising mortgage rates and rents and lack of affordable properties are only making the situation even worse.”
One survey respondent added: “I fear I will end up living with my parents until they die. There needs to be more access to support for disabled people to be able to find their own homes that meet their needs.”
While acknowledging the many initiatives to provide affordable housing that are planned or underway in Cornwall, the report highlights the urgency of the situation and makes several recommendations for action, including:
- More use of the 2,600 empty homes in the county and speeding-up the process under Cornwall Council’s Empty Properties Scheme.
- Greater use of unused commercial properties, including vacant space above shops.
- More government support for the local provision of quality temporary accommodation.
Gill Pipkin added:
“The information in this report is reflected in the cases that our advisers are increasingly seeing across the county. Whilst we know there are plans for affordable homes for sale and rent, we urgently need authorities to take what action they can as soon as possible to relieve Cornwall’s housing situation.”
The full Hidden Homelessness in Cornwall report can be found here: https://citizensadvicecornwall.org.uk/research-and-campaigns/