World Homeless Day 2021

08 Oct 2021

As a housing association with a strong social purpose, building and managing homes is not the only thing we do. Helping people when they most need it and adding value in our communities is at the centre of everything we do.

World Homelessness Day, 10 October 2021, is a chance for us to highlight the work we do to support homeless and vulnerable adults and to emphasise where more can be done. As a member of Homes for Cathy, a national group of housing associations working together to end homelessness, we see it as a key responsibility to create places that people can call home, and support them to live well. Homes for Cathy are committed to lobbying for solutions that make a difference to homeless people and people at risk of homelessness.

Supporting people who are homeless, living in temporary accommodation or who are at risk of being homeless is a key area of our work. Arlington, our 95-bed mixed-use flagship homelessness scheme helps our vulnerable residents to move on to secure homes and more stable futures. All our supported customers are referred to us by Camden Council through their hostel pathway service. We offer them bespoke 1-1 on-going support which enables them to build confidence, resilience and access training and employment opportunities. We work hand-in-hand with our social enterprises and commercial businesses to create a mixed, vibrant environment all under one roof, where our customers can be motivated to get on the right track. Arlington also houses 44 units of accommodation for single people on low-income.

Clarence House in Bedford is our purpose-built hostel for 29 homeless and former rough sleepers, housed in self-contained studio apartments. A team of support staff available 24/7 to assist residents with a range of complex needs. Alongside Arlington and Clarence House, we also support customers living in temporary accommodation, and in supported housing in our Prevention services in Bedford and Lewisham. Our focus is on helping customers to settle into their new home, developing skills to manage their tenancy and accessing permanent accommodation.

As part of the Mayor of London’s ‘move-on’ programme, we were approached by the Greater London Authority (GLA) to provide 115 units through a capital grant award of £15 million for former rough sleepers and women that have experienced domestic violence. One Housing was awarded the support contract for 92 of those units supporting former rough sleepers. A dedicated team with specialist support staff works with customers in a trauma informed way recognising the experiences they have faced as former rough sleepers. The GLA commissioned the remaining 23 units to a specialist Domestic Abuse consortium of small Domestic Violence service providers called violence against women and girls (VAWG). The consortium is led by Solace Women’s Aid who work closely with us bridging the partnership with One Housing.

It is not only older people that are affected by homelessness. It is also a key trigger for a range of long and short-term problems faced by young people aged 16-25 including any one or combination of increasing substance misuse, unemployment, criminal activity including violence, and sexual exploitation. Any of these issues can cause longer term problems both for the individual, their families and society.

We work with several local authorities to support young people, including young parents including Camden, Hackney, Islington, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and Westminster. We encourage young people to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. Support officers work with young people on life skills including budgeting, conflict resolution, forming relationships with others, CV and job application writing, tenancy sustainment, rights and responsibilities and managing emotions.

Education is essential to the long-term potential of a young person. It can make the difference between long-term unemployment and secure successful employment. Not being in education, employment or training between the ages of 16 and 19 is a major predictor of later unemployment, low income, teenage motherhood, depression and poor physical health. We are also the only Housing Association with a license to deliver the Duke of Edinburgh Awards to young people in supported accommodation.

Covid-19 has brought an additional set of challenges in working with homeless people, from additional care and support needs, to unforeseen financial hardship. We are working hard to help residents and customers access the benefits and support they need. We have a long history of helping and supporting people get back on their feet and we’re proud to be a part of World Homelessness Day.