Citizens Advice Cornwall and the Nationwide Building Society are launching a pioneering £48,000 initiative to stem the tide of homelessness in the county.

Project Roof aims to help tenants and homeowners stay in their homes by:

  • Working with people to stop potential problems becoming a crisis by highlighting their rights and responsibilities and tackling rent and mortgage arrears and relationship breakdowns with landlords.
  • Providing specialist advice to people facing eviction, helping them avoid unnecessary litigation and defending them in court if necessary.
  • Training a team of housing advisers across the county because there is no housing specialist advice in Cornwall.

Citizens Advice Cornwall Chief Executive, Gill Pipkin, said: “We’re delighted to have Nationwide’s support for this three pronged attack on Cornwall’s housing problem.

“We know that the massive shortage of affordable housing, low-paid work and rising cost of living is making it harder for Cornish residents to find and keep a home.

“The lack of housing advisers means people with eviction notices in Cornwall face going to court alone with no practical help or support, and often lose their homes and can’t find anywhere else to rent within their means.”

Craig Taylor, Senior Social Investment Manager, Nationwide Building Society, said: “Helping local communities is at the heart of what it means to be a building society for Nationwide. Thanks to our Community Grants programme, we are so thrilled to be able to award Citizens Advice Cornwall with this grant, knowing it will create such a difference and make a positive difference to so many individuals in our local community. Local charities have been hit by the pandemic and anything we can do to support and help them continue their valuable work with local communities is so important.”  

According to Cornwall Council, there is a shortfall of around 30,000 affordable homes in the county. Although more homes are planned to fill the gap, these are unlikely to be all completed within the next five years. The county also has 29,000 empty, second or holiday homes.

Gill Pipkin added: “We want to give people the means of staying in their own homes but when this fails, we’ll also support them through the legal process to give them the best chances possible of keeping a roof over their heads.”

Project Roof Lead, Sara Burcham, said:

“With so little social or affordable housing in Cornwall, competition for homes is high. We want more people to know how to avoid housing problems in the first place.

“We’ll be working with people to help maximise their income by carrying out benefits checks, looking at support with paying rent, advice on household budgeting, energy advice, sources of help paying council tax, debt advice and affordable payment plans.

“We’ll also be producing a range of publicity materials so people know what they can do themselves and who to turn to for advice.”