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Housing

Micro-homes for Cambridge rough sleepers built by formerly homeless people

Six new homes will come equipped with on-site support after the units were designed to be moved site and keep costs low

Charity workers and builders-for-good in Cambridge are teaming up to open six new modular homes for homeless people.

In a bid to sidestep high land and housing costs in the area, the custom-built supported living units are specifically designed so that they can be used on temporary sites which come in at a low cost.

The homes are arriving in just the nick of time as rough sleepers housed in hotels during the Covid-19 pandemic are currently set to leave their accommodation at the end of June and the need for new housing for them is urgent.

Each property was built by 13 young people at the New Meaning Foundation, a social enterprise training disadvantaged and formerly homeless people in construction. And each unit can be relocated within three years of the planning consent to ensure the project is kept affordable and sustainable.

Residents can stay in the homes – designed as self-contained flats each with a fitted kitchen, a living space, a bathroom, a washing machine and a bedroom – and will be supported on-site by local charity Jimmy’s. When the project moves location, residents can decide if they would like to stay in their home or move on to permanent housing.

Mark Allan, Jimmy’s chief executive, said: “One of the main challenges facing people who are homeless is finding affordable accommodation together with the support to help deal with the causes of what led them to sleeping rough on the streets in the first place. This project offers both.

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“Six new affordable homes backed up with a team of committed, caring staff and volunteers with expertise in supporting people deal with their addictions, build their self-worth and tackle their mental health difficulties, reconnect with estranged family, find employment, and so much more. These new homes will change people’s lives.”

Jimmy’s, which has been supporting local homeless people for 25 years, joined forces with the New Meaning Foundation and innovation charity Allia on the 12-month project so create much-needed community housing for the area.

Martin Clark, Allia group director of impact, said “We’re excited to finally launch these homes, and hope they will make a real difference to people’s lives.

“I’m deeply grateful to all those who have given funds and free professional help to bring this vision to life, to the church for lending their land, and to the project partners for their tireless work. We hope this will be the start of more such innovative projects until there is enough housing for all who need it.”

Last month we reported that London housing associations were looking to build 100,000 new affordable modular homes across the country for essential workers – to say thank you to the key staff getting the country through the Covid-19 crisis.

Image: Jimmy’s

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