With rising rents and home ownership slipping out of the reach of growing numbers of people, it’s never been easier to find yourself sleeping rough.
Add to that a prolonged economic downturn and a cost of living crisis and the ingredients are all present for a significant increase in homelessness.
Young people are particularly at risk. Data from Centrepoint shows that approximately 121,000 young people asked for help with homelessness during 2020/21. While most of these were in urban areas, there is now a growing problem in rural parts of the country as well.
With resources stretched it can feel like nothing is being done to tackle a growing problem, but that’s not the case.
A truly innovative approach is being championed by businessman and philanthropist, Javad Marandi, which he believes could be truly transformative.
A new approach from Centrepoint
When it comes to tackling youth homelessness in the UK, Centrepoint is the leading charitable organisation.
It provides a range of services for young people aged 16-25, including housing, support and outreach work. A key aspect of its work is providing support and devising initiatives to help young people escape a cycle of poverty and homelessness as they attempt to build independent adult lives.
The Centrepoint Independent Living Programme brings together employment support with housing to give young people the building blocks for an independent life. Its goal is to provide appropriate support to young people who have previously been homeless, or who may be at heightened risk of becoming so.
Headed by Javad Marandi, the scheme will initially make 300 homes in London and Manchester available for young people.
To be eligible for the scheme, an applicant will need to have secured employment through Centrepoint’s Work Scheme. This supports young people in their search for jobs, equipping them with the skills they need to succeed.
They’ll receive support with skills training, further education, careers advice and job applications. When the time is right, they’ll be matched with a potential employer through the scheme. As soon as the young person is employed they are then able to apply for a home through the Independent Living Programme.
The rent for the homes will be capped at a third of the young person’s salary.
This would mean that a young person in London who earns £18,000 a year would pay no more than £500 per month. According to HomeLet, current market rents for a property in the capital average around £1,832 for new tenants. In other words, the average rent is higher than what the average non-graduate young person can realistically expect to earn from employment.
Ambition for the future
While 300 homes may sound modest it’s hoped that these can be the starting point for what will become a truly nationwide scheme. Centrepoint has an extensive track record when it comes to delivering housing projects and the kind of tailored support that young people need.
“I am confident that when we can show concrete evidence of how this scheme works, both practically and economically, we will be looking at building 30,000 homes across the country, helping people whatever their stage of life,” says Marandi.
With his background in business and philanthropy, he believes that the model Centrepoint has developed has the potential to deliver for investors and employers as well as young people.
“At the moment, the biggest hurdle to the growth of Centrepoint Independent Living is the novelty of the programme,” says Marandi. “It’s never been done before and, as with anything revolutionary, you have to prove the concept to all interested parties: potential investors, national and local government, and employers looking to sign up for the scheme. There is a chance for all to benefit and to be part of something truly extraordinary.”
Centrepoint hopes that more companies will help by donating money, property and land as well as providing employment opportunities for young people.