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Hidden Homelessness in Cornwall

This report by Citizen’s Advice Cornwall provides a snapshot of hidden homelessness. We recognise there are many initiatives planned in Cornwall, however some are many years from being realised and others are small scale in relation to the problem. We also recognise that a large part of the solution lies at a national level with central government which has the financial resources to achieve a game changing leap in housing provision.

However, we have looked at some steps that could be taken locally to mitigate the housing crisis:

Empty homes

As of April, 2021 there were 2,600 empty properties in Cornwall according to Cornwall Council. More of these properties could be brought up to standard and let out by extending the council’s Empty Properties Scheme.

Unused town centre spaces

As a number of our survey respondents have pointed out, there are unused commercial properties in towns and larger villages which could be converted to affordable housing to buy or rent. This includes shops and offices that have redundant first or second floors. With the right incentives and changes to planning regulations, commercial landlords could be encouraged to make better use of unoccupied space.

Temporary Accommodation

The increasing need for temporary accommodation has caused major issues for clients at Citizens Advice Cornwall. We regularly see people having to live in unsuitable accommodation many miles from family, friends, school and work – sometimes out of county. We would like to see much greater Government support to encourage greater provision of quality temporary accommodation via the public and private sectors.