Paul Noblet, Public Affairs Manager at Centrepoint discusses the struggle to access housing experienced by young, formerly homeless people.
In many areas of the country, accessing rented housing, let along buying a property, is out of reach for many young people. These problems are even more acute for those who have been homeless. A combination of welfare reforms, including the lowering of Local Housing Allowance payments, and a chronic shortage of social housing has meant that many young people simply cannot afford to leave home or move on from supported housing. Research from Centrepoint and the University of Cambridge has found that there are over 9000 young people across the country who are stuck in hostels due to a lack of suitable housing to move on to.
In London and the South East in particular, securing a council or housing association home is simply not a realistic option. This means that the private-rented sector is central to satisfying demand for good quality, affordable properties.
End Youth Homelessness, a campaigning group consisting of businesses and charities, is aiming to ensure that all young people can ultimately secure a home and a job. In tough economic times and with the shortfall in homes projected to rise to nearly a million by 2021, this is a tough challenge. But it is achievable.
Charities such as St Basil’s, Centrepoint and others across the country are already working with landlords to support young people to move from our hostels into independent living. For example, Centrepoint’s rent deposit guarantee scheme brings benefits to both landlords and young people. By providing the deposit, first month’s rent and support to the tenant, we have persuaded many more landlords to rent to young people who otherwise might find themselves turned away in favour of students or older tenants who are often perceived as being a safer bet. By working with charities, private landlords can support some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities, with the security of knowing that they are being supported to pay their rent and live up to their responsibilities as tenants.
Of course, we want to see the Government look again at some of the recent welfare reforms such as the reduction in Local Housing Allowance levels. And yes, we would like to see more empty homes brought into use and new stock built. But even when additional investment becomes possible, the cornerstone of the housing market in high demand areas will remain private landlords. We are therefore eager to work with landlords to ensure that homeless young people can find a home, become responsible tenants and build a new life for themselves.
Would you like to help end youth homelessness? Email your local Centrepoint contact to find out more