Finding accommodation and keeping it - what does it take?

Thursday, 4 February 2016 - 8:18am

Two workshops at our March conference raise key questions about supporting young people out of homelessness. Where can they live? And how will they stay there?

The challenge of supporting young people to live independently is greater than ever. Even if you can help them navigate the raft of welfare changes that, at times, seem designed to create barriers, what happens next?

Two workshops at Young and Homeless 2016 in March will offer some answers.

Opening up the private rented sector to young people

Warwickshire charity Doorway has made something of an art of developing relationships with private landlords that can work for young people. They now informally manage almost 50 accommodation units in the area.

In March, Doorway’s Carol Gallagher and Janine Curtis will talk about how they built those relationships and encouraged landlords to consider young people as tenants. She will look at funding, the services they offer and what they have achieved through their scheme.

Carol says: “Some of our landlords have a lot of accommodation, others only have one or two properties. Some contact us because they want to give something back to society and like the fact that we are able to be an intermediary in case of problems – but their charitable nature can sometimes be stretched when there are tenancy problems!”

“It’s not always easy, but on the whole our private landlords’ scheme has enabled us to help lots of homeless young people over the years with great success. It’s been a learning experience for us, including the need for us to manage rent accounts, the importance of regular full property inspections – and of course the need to find the right way of communicating, because if a young person begins to think their support worker is simply speaking on behalf of their landlord, they might disengage it can become increasingly difficult to support them.”

Helping young people to develop the skills to live independently

But finding the property is only part of the challenge. The Money House, funded by the BIG Lottery, has reduced over 400 young people’s chance of being evicted by providing financial and independent living skills training, in a real flat in Woolwich. In their workshop, Aisha Shillingford and Tom Gardiner will share their experiences and offer some thoughts on how this has been achieved.

The target group, aged 16-25, isn’t the easiest group to engage, but persistence pays off. It also helps that they have the support of Royal Borough of Greenwich, who have made it compulsory for young people to attend The Money House before they are able to bid on properties in the borough. 

Aisha says: “Many of the young people referred to our one or five day courses, run in a real flat, are in need of some form of support. We get care leavers, those living in hostels and sofa surfers to name a few. Many aren’t interested in learning life skills or being trained in financial literacy – until they actually attend!” 

“Our courses are led by youth training specialists and help young people prepare for the challenges of living independently. The interactive, practical, fun approach we use teaches young people how to budget, understand their spending habits and provides tips for improving their financial situation. Using a real flat helps with this, making it feel more real. Trainers explain how to make sense of the benefits system and how to navigate bureaucracy, as well as detailing tenants’ rights and responsibilities. This information is presented using a mix of activities, games and practical learning methods.”

“We’ve had 400 Money House graduates to date and 98% say they feel more financially confident after completing the course and they are statistically three times less likely to be in high arears than their peers who have not taken part.”

Young and Homeless 2016 – book your place now

PRS and independent living skills form just part of the youth homelessness picture at our conference on 14 March. We will also be looking at the Positive Pathway, rough sleeping, welfare reform, family intervention, the Fair Chance Fund, and much more. We hope you can join us.

Click here to find out more and book your place.

Talk To Us

Kate Alaway

Conference and events manager

Kate manages our national programme of events that address the latest topics of interest in the homelessness sector. The events include our annual conference, one-day conferences, parliamentary reception and our rolling programme of webinars.

Telephone: 020 7840 4461
Twitter: @ConferenceKate