Housing Crisis: What can and what should we do?

Posted on: 29th October 2021

Some stats from Cornwall Community Land Trust

Housing Crisis: What can and what should we do? First define ‘we’? It is very easy to be concerned about it or even worse be overwhelmed because that notice to leave your rented home has just arrived, but who can do something about it that will make a difference? I could start with idealistic things like people should not own more than 1 home unless they are caring people who are buying more property to let it to local people; the truth is that would take Government legislation and is not going to happen. So ‘we’ comes down to us in the community with our local elected councillors support and guidance.

Defining community led housing

Community led housing can get started in many ways and take many forms but Cornwall is strong and has led the way with Community Land Trusts, charitable organisations that look to own assets that will benefit the community in some way, and that can include land to provide homes. Town and Parish Councils do not usually build homes but the crisis is so big they do want to help and are looking at what they can do.

For those wanting to build a community not just a home, Co-housing is taking off in Cornwall. This is where a group of people get together to build a community together

So, back in October, I called together people from the Land Trust I chair, Lands End Peninsula Community Land Trust, a few concerned Town and Parish Councillors from down West and some residents who have been or are affected by the housing crisis or feel stuck shelling out rent for years with nothing much to show for it. If we as a very small charity, run by volunteers not developers are to do something, we need to get some money behind us and involve our community in becoming the ‘we’.

My Appeal

Second home owners come in for a lot of stick but I know if we sat in a room with them and had a chat, we’d conclude most are nice people. So, I am hoping that this little message might reach those nice people and that they might become part of the ‘we’. I’ve read all the stories of people not from Cornwall taking £10,000 COVID grants that they do not really need. A community land trust could use that money to provide a secure home for a local person. Some people might have owned their second home for many years, when it did not seem such a big problem to communities. Perhaps when they were younger and had a family they came down often but it has become less over time and they just have not got around to selling it. Now is the time to rent it out to someone local – Cornwall Housing offer an excellent private rental service to landlords so why not contact them? Cornwall Housing Private Letting Service

What if you just want a home?

All this waffle and finding out will not be much comfort to those with a letter saying their Landlord wants them out. Even if you have been advised you do not have to leave until the Landlord gets a court order, it is not nice and I know you will be wanting to feel safe and secure in a home that feels like yours. You probably feel you are trying everything and that there is nothing else to try but, just in case, Cornwall Housing do help people find a good private landlord! Cornwall Housing could help you find a home to rent

Enough waffle, what am I going to do?

I am going to work with whoever is willing to help me to find a way to provide homes that people want and need to feel safe. I know I will not achieve anything soon enough for folk with notices to quit in their hands but, perhaps in 12 months time we will be achieving things that help our community turn the tide on this crisis and some people who have been forced to move away can consider coming back. I am talking with Councillors, Officers and Cornwall Council, Trustees at Lands End Peninsula Community Land Trust, Cornwall Community Land Trust, Agile Properties, South West Procurement Alliance and people who have lost or are losing their rented homes. Below is a link to some information, primarily about Agile Homes, a different and sustainable approach to meeting local housing needs that the Land Trust are going to try to pilot in New Year. It will not be easy because trialling something new, never is but keep on doing what we have always done is not solving the problem either.

A very different approach to providing homes