How do you find accommodation for someone who is or has been homeless?
Of course registered social landlords, such as the Chelmer Housing Partnership, do provide accommodation for the sort of single homeless people we deal with when it is available but the process of registering with the local council and bidding for places can be long and quite intimidating.
We often find ourselves trying to persuade service users not to lose heart.
An alternative is to place the homeless people with private landlords but many private landlords are reluctant to house those on benefits or with a history of homelessness. Even when someone is placed in privately rented accommodation they can find themselves feeling isolated and can forget to do essential things like putting money aside to pay for food and rent.
Too many lose the private accommodation into which they are placed.
Earlier this year we were successful in our bid for one of 74 "sustaining secure tenancies" projects running around the country. This provides us with a year's funding (from 1 April 2012) for a project designed to move homeless people into private accommodation and to support them for an initial six months to help them sustain independent living and keep their tenancies.
In March Jan joined us as our Secure Tenancies Officer. Starting a month early enabled her to familiarise herself with CHESS and its service users in time for the official start of the project on 1 April.
She has tackled the problem from two angles. She is busy preparing a list of private landlords who are prepared to accept service users whom we refer to them and whom we undertake to support in their efforts to sustain their tenancies. We now have a number of landlords prepared to offer flats, studio apartments or rooms in shared houses. We are still looking for more, though.
Jan has prepared information for prospective landlords and has placed leaflets in local shopping centres. She is always happy to talk to potential landlords about the benefits participation in the scheme can offer.
She has also been working with our service users to help them identify suitable accommodation from the places offered by the landlords working with us. In the first three months of the project ten service users moved into private rented accommodation, so we are well on our way to achieving our targets.
Jan is continuing to support the ten who have moved into private accommodation, giving them advice on various matters, including the items needed to keep their new homes clean and tidy and Housing Benefit.
Could you be one of our landlords?
If you have a property you wish to let which you think might be suitable and would like to help those less fortunate than yourself, do please contact Jan through our office (01245 281104).
She will be delighted to hear from you.