Glenise Hutchens, 76, and 84-year-old husband John, who has dementia, are weeks away from homelessness after their rental home was put up for sale. The council are struggling to find a new rental home amid a shortage in Cornwall.
But Cornwall has seen a huge influx of wealthy people from outside the region in recent years, a problem escalated by the pandemic and people living large cities as a result.
Glenise and John’s close friend Elaine Hyland has been desperately looking for a new place for the couple to live.
“The housing market has gone through the roof, in general. They are now effectively homeless,” she told Cornwall Live.
“We’re being told there isn’t anywhere. That Cornwall is full and they may have to move away to Devon, or even further, to live in a Travelodge. John has dementia, it’s not doable.”
The couple’s landlord recently died, leaving their home, as well as several others in the nearby area, to the family who have now opted to sell off the houses.
Ms Hyland has since begged Cornwall Council for help.
The council, which the Tories won in May, said it could bid on properties with a budget of £500 per month as part of its Home Choice provisions.
But Glenise and John are on state pensions, and have been told there is nowhere, owing to the high price of housing in Cornwall.
The solution offered by the emergency housing team at the council was a Travelodge in Devon, with no facilities to eat – meaning the couple would have to scrape money together to eat out three times a day.
Glenise said she and her husband feel “utterly devastated” by the situation.
The pensioner added: “We have been left homeless after over 20 years at this property, and we’re very disappointed in the system.
“We cannot afford the private returns with the budget we receive from the council, we’re out priced and nowhere to go.
“My husband has to go to the doctors three times a week and has dementia so if we go too far he won’t know where he is. It’s difficult.
“House prices have gone up, and when we’re on state pension – how are we to make up the extra hundreds in rent?”
Ms Hyland explained that the couple can’t live properly in a Travelodge, no one can, and blamed the issue partly on the number of holiday homes in Cornwall.
She added: “There’s not a single one bedroom flat or house which can be allocated to the vulnerable?
“We’re not sure what to do. Their family don’t live in the county, they might be out on the streets at this rate.
“They don’t want to be in this situation, they don’t want to live in a B&B to see out the end of their days. It’s horrific to expect them to. How can they live like that? I’m sure they’re not the only ones.
“There just isn’t enough housing anymore, with all of it being turned into air B&Bs. What’s left is too expensive, and at one stage the council asked if one of them can get a job to supplement their income.
“The whole system seems a-crock. Two elderly vulnerable people are going to become homeless. The system is the system, but it’s wrong.”
She added that the couple are being advised to remain in the house beyond the eviction date, lest they end up entirely homeless.
But this, Ms Hyland said, will mean the couple will face legal action and potentially a court case.
“The the stress of it all for someone with dementia,” she added.
A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: “We sympathise with the position that some residents are finding themselves in as Cornwall faces extreme pressure on the availability of housing.
“We are committed to providing support for any resident threatened with homelessness and urge anyone who finds themselves in that position to contact Cornwall Housing so that we can try and help prevent it from happening.
“We also take into account their welfare needs as we support them to try and find suitable alternative accommodation but there is a high demand for homes, which includes our own housing stock, properties that we rent, or other accommodation.
“While we are putting in place our own emergency accommodation and in the process of buying and refurbishing more than 100 homes to provide medium-term temporary accommodation, this unprecedented demand has meant that we are having to use temporary and emergency accommodation hotels.
“However, that too is subject to limited availability – a seasonal issue exacerbated by the exceptional number of people we are supporting.”
“As demand for accommodation in Cornwall is extremely high, we sometimes have to offer temporary accommodation outside of Cornwall as a last resort.
“We will move those affected back to their support circles as soon as there are vacancies in Cornwall and continue to offer support to help them find long-term homes.”