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Affordable housing and the provision of supported accommodation (part 4)

Affordable housing and the provision of supported accommodation (part 4) cover image
What models of genuinely affordable move-on accommodation currently exist for transitioning individuals in temporary accommodation into independent living and how do they work? #makinghomelessnesshistory

At the end of our last blog we pointed to other providers who are seeking to find ways to transition people from supported accommodation into independent living that are tenant centred.

One such model, which is being implemented by one of homeless link's members, allows their residents a 3-month grace period after they have started work to cover any probation period at a reduced rent of £100 per week including support. Interestingly this links in perfectly with the benchmark we identified in part 1 of this blog series as being a truly affordable rent. They then ask them to move on to free the bed for someone new and offer open ended support if they need it after moving (which most do for approximately 3-6 months sorting out utility bills forms and general stress of the move). The reality is that the transition from supported living to independent living is a big one and often requires additional support to ensure that it goes smoothly. The advantage here is that there is continuity of support and no need to either move into separate move-on accommodation or build up a relationship with a new support worker as part of the process of moving on.

Another model that is being proposed by Andy Redfearn and Commonweal Housing is Livshare which is purpose built shared accommodation. The accommodation is designed to fit into the growing market of people on low incomes needing to live at least for a period of time in shared accommodation. Andy's report "LivShare reclaiming the HMO" states that:

It is designed to offer the best of communal living whilst at the same time creating high quality, safe private bedrooms. With a higher density townhouse model utilising efficient build systems, LivShare proposes a model offering rents that young people on low incomes can afford whilst at the same time minimising the running costs of the properties

There is a deliberate effort on their behalf to find ways to minimise the costs, not in order to maximise the profits but in order to be able to offer truly affordable rents to the occupants. Eventually they should be in a position to transition on into mainstream private accommodation.

The LivShare model would be flexible in practice, depending on the purpose of the scheme and tenant mix. Depending upon ownership, the housing management can be delivered by a registered housing provider or housing charity or be outsourced to an ethical letting agency managing agent

In the case of a housing charity being the managing agent, it is not inconceivable that low level support could be offered as part this process. The residents could be assisted in maintaining their tenancy, managing their finances and working towards moving on:

LivShare tenants will be encouraged to save while staying in order to secure their own more suitable accommodation in the future, perhaps through an additional saving element to rent.

It seems to us that this also is another innovative and different model for offering what is effectively move-on accommodation that is genuinely affordable and fits within the third sector efforts to break cycles of housing poverty.

Elsewhere the Homeless foundation in Worcester are also operating a model of move-on accommodation in partnership with other charities. They recognise the central role that move-on accommodation plays in breaking cycles of housing poverty:

For those capable of living independently, the ability to access suitable move on accommodation is a critical factor in ensuring a permanent move away from homelessness

They have a number of properties with 11 bed spaces in them. Each property is partnered with another housing charity or association - including St Paul's Hostel, Spring Housing and the YMCA - and is for the exclusive use of the partner organisation as move-on accommodation for their tenants who were previously in a hostel or other form of temporary accommodation. The Homeless Foundation provides the move-on accommodation and the partner organisation provides the support for the individuals being housed. The average stay of an individual is between 6 and 12 months after which roughly 85% move on, this time to independent living. The scheme is subsidised by income from other investment properties which helps to fund it and the people operating the scheme are volunteers with day jobs. This enables them to provide genuinely affordable accommodation at no more than Local Housing Allowance rates. Any service charges are only used to cover utility bills and actual costs and not to offset the cost of any support that is being offered. This is another example of true move-on accommodation that is tenant centred and genuinely charitable in nature.

These are all schemes being operated in different places around the country that are offering move-on accommodation that is genuinely affordable and finding different ways to fund it. Hope into Action is another provider of move-on accommodation and we will finish this blog series by exploring that model on the next occasion.