It Takes a City (Cambridge)

It Takes a City was established at the Cambridge Summit on Homelessness in 2018 as a community response to rough sleeping and homelessness, bringing together organisations and people from the public, private and third sectors, and those with lived experience of homelessness, to develop new solutions and services that complement and support the work of local authorities and agencies.

Ideas are developed in Action Groups - groups have conversations that lead to action that lead to change - initially focused on making information available; analysing homelessness data; creating new housing every year; ensuring the voices of women, young people, and those with lived experience are heard; encouraging employment; and providing enduring wrap-around support. Each has resulted in change happening.

All lead to our vision that everyone should have somewhere to call home that is safe, secure, connected, supported, a place to flourish and build community.

Our role is to influence, advocate, facilitate, resource and encourage change - bringing finance, people and partners together to make a lasting difference. Will you come on board?

Information - we launched, a county-wide mobile-friendly website that makes it easy to find help and to give help. Can you help to promote this more widely and build and maintain the content?


Data - we are working on models of analysis including self-efficacy as a measure of progress both individually and across a programme. Can you offer any expertise?


Housing - there is a pressing need to house those taken off the streets during COVID-19. The It Takes a City Community Land Trust, a charitable community benefit society, was formed in 2020 by the ITAC housing group to facilitate the provision of supported homes through social investment for rough sleepers and those stuck in hostel accommodation. It coordinates land acquisition, planning, construction of homes, infrastructure, support and housing management. It aims to provide 20 supported homes a year, building lives and communities.  Are you able to help the ITAC CLT with any of the following needs?


  • Land we need land that we can rent for a number of years and / or purchase, for schemes of size 6 homes and upwards. Larger sites will be “hubs”, including training, employment and community facilities, with many smaller satellite sites. At the present time we are working with some major regional landowners to create a short-list of sites to take to planning.


  • Homes we have initiated the construction of a number of very small self-contained single detached homes using modern modular technology. They are built in a training environment for young people and others needing help to get back into work. A previous project led by one of our Directors installed 6 such homes at Christ the Redeemer Church in Cambridge on Newmarket Road. We are also working with academic partners on the feasiblity of off-grid utiliity solutions. 


  • Schemes we will use the homes and the land to create micro-communities where former rough sleepers can feel at home, safe and secure, with access to support. Partner groups and co-located enterprises (at hub sites) will provide mentoring and employment opportunities combined with professional support from local partners, to address the issues that brought our residents to homelessness and prevent their return to the streets. We will have the flexibility to provide truly affordable rents for residents whether in or out of work. There will be accommodation for site wardens and community workers to help keep people stay safe and become connected.


  • Finance investors can purchase micro-homes directly from our construction partner New Meaning Foundation, and lease them to us when installed on our sites. Or they can invest in one of our Share Schemes, used to purchase micro-homes, finance infrastructure and cover development fees and costs. Our first Share Scheme is raising the costs for planning applications, professional fees, fund raising and project management for our first site. Our next Share Scheme will raise the funds for delivery of our first site or sites ready for occupancy. We will also be able to accept donations.


  • Resources - as with ITAC, the ITAC CLT is not ambitious to create a large organisation but to work with partners in professional services, land, construction, property and finance.


Community - we are working with our partner prganisation CHS Group on two projects that enable the local community to provide support, one assisting people to engage with local employers and training organisations, and the other aimed at providing community members to come alongside homeless people and provide friendship and mentoring. We are looking to develop further schemes which enable the local community to provide "wrap-around" support for those on their housing journey from "Street to Home". Can you or your employer help us with this?


COVID-19 / next steps - We have been leading on the provision of accommodation and support to 100s of rough sleepers accommodated under the government's "Everybody In" programme which started in late March 2020. This has brought together a larger number of organisartions and volunteers delivering daily meals and contact seven days week. Everybody is keen to ensure that none need to go back on the street. And it is not clear how many more people may end up on the street as a result of the pandemic. The solution to this is finance and housing - all those that are doing well, helping those that have fallen behind. Cambridge has considerable expertise and wealth - the ITAC CLT is one channel for putting this to good use for creating our micro-communities. But existing property and buildings can also be put to good use, as has been shown during the pandemic. Do you have access to property that can be re-used now?

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