It’s a week when Prince William shows a commitment to ending homelessness with ‘Homewards’. At Your Own Place we launch ‘Steps to a Successful Tenancy’, in partnership with Sovereign Housing Association.
What the Prince recognised in his figure of 300,000 people, is that this includes people in supported accommodation and other temporary (and often pretty grotty, albeit necessary) settings. The media reports a lot on rough sleeping. More recently about the Private Renters Bill, with evictions from the private sector among the biggest drivers of homelessness.
What is much less reported is the people stuck in limbo, stuck in supported accommodation, life and jobs on hold. When I worked in supported accommodation there was awful talk of ‘bed blocking’. What this meant was that many of these arrangements are meant to be temporary and that through a lack of move-on options for a lot of people, they were stuck. This in turn results in many who need the service also being turned away and forced to sleep rough. When we look at the stubborn numbers of people remaining homeless and recurring homelessness, we can see how an inability to move on from supported accommodation has a knock on throughout the homelessness chain.
I have never met a housing association that wanted to evict someone. I don’t always agree with their approaches or policies, but you only have to see the dedication to their tenants during Covid and now with hardship funds during the cost of living crisis, to understand that eviction is a last resort. They want to do the right thing.
With 60,000 homes across southern England, Sovereign Housing Association, like many, has witnessed an increase in the numbers of prospective tenants they are turning away or ‘skipping’ applicants on affordability grounds. Housing associations are allowed to undertake these assessments. They ensure that tenants can afford the rent at the outset. With two thirds of housing associations now reporting an increase in rent arrears and being dependent on this income to build more homes, this is something they can ill afford to risk. With an all but universal 7% increase in social rents last April and 1 in 4 adults having less than £100 in savings, more must be done to support people from the outset.
If more people are being turned away or ‘skipped’, more people are continuing in unsatisfactory homeless accommodation and other temporary settings. These are not conducive to starting out or thriving in life. It being an affordability assessment, it disproportionately affects young people as those most likely to be on a low income.
So we’re thrilled to have been commissioned as part of their solution. We commend Sovereign on their efforts to challenge his situation. Our 12-week programme that sees a unique combination of online group workshops covering money skills and tenancies, following by coaching 1-2-1 support as well as access to a fabulous portal of our Your Own Place recordings and resources means that tenants turned away will have a better opportunity of passing the affordability assessment second time around.
We’re looking forward to developing the programme, reaching new people in new geographies to reduce affordability risks for them as well as the landlord and playing our part in freeing up accommodation for other people in need and preventing homelessness.