Image for ‘They will change lives’: the micro houses tackling homelessness in Cambridge

‘They will change lives’: the micro houses tackling homelessness in Cambridge

In the shadows of its famous university, people are living rough in Cambridge. A new housing project aims to address that

In the shadows of its famous university, people are living rough in Cambridge. A new housing project aims to address that

An affordable housing project delayed by coronavirus will launch next week, providing secure accommodation to rough sleepers in Cambridge, where the high cost of living has pushed people onto the street.

The development comprises six micro homes, which have been installed on land belonging to a local church. The land has been donated to the project for three years and the properties have been designed to be easily relocated to another free site when the current tenure is up.

Each property has a fitted kitchen, living area, bathroom, separate bedroom and washing machine. Residents can stay for as long as they need and will receive onsite support from the homeless charity, Jimmy’s Cambridge.

When the units are moved to another location, residents will have the choice of continuing to live in them or moving to more permanent accommodation if they are able to do so.

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The initiative has been led by the charity Allia, which supports development projects with a positive impact, in partnership with Jimmy’s and the New Meaning Foundation, an ethical construction social enterprise.

“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,” said Mark Allan, chief executive of Jimmy’s Cambridge, said.

“This project offers both. 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.”

Cambridge is the most unequal place in the UK, according to a reporty

Cambridge is the most unequal city in the UK according to 2018 report by the Centre for Cities. Image: Bogdan Todoran

A 2018 report by Centre for Cities, a think tank, declared Cambridge the most unequal city in the UK. In the shadow of its famous university many people are living rough due partly to a lack of affordable housing.

“We hope this will be the start of more such innovative projects until there is enough housing for all who need it,” said Martin Clark, group director of impact at Allia. “We’re excited to finally launch these homes and hope they will make a real difference to people’s lives.”

The homes were funded by grants and donations from public and private sector companies and were built by workers at the New Meaning Foundation, which provides employment for people with experience of homelessness.

“Building the units offered a great opportunity for training and work experience to 13 young people from a homeless background, building their skills, confidence and self-belief in the process,” said John Evans, director of the New Meaning Foundation.

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