The impact of youth homelessness can be devastating for young people who find themselves caught up in it.
It can lead to a downward spiral, as a young person finds it hard to get or hold down a job, access education and services and rapidly fall behind their peers.
Young people living rough or in precarious, temporary accommodation for any length of time are much more likely to end up permanently disadvantaged.
Youth homelessness all too often becomes long-term homelessness with all the subsequent consequences that can have for life outcomes. Studies have shown that the average life expectancy for long-term homeless people in the UK is at least 20 years less than the rest of the population.
Now Centrepoint, the UK’s premier youth homelessness charity is launching an innovative new project that it hopes will lead to the eradication of youth homelessness in the UK.
An ambitious vision
Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme aims to provide a lasting and sustainable solution for vulnerable young people aged between 16 and 25 by combining affordable housing with supported employment opportunities.
The program will begin with 300 rent-capped, secure homes in Manchester and London, which will be made available to young people who are at risk of homelessness and have enrolled in the Centrepoint Work Scheme.
The Work Scheme aims to equip young people with the skills, further training, and education they need to enter the workforce.
Those who successfully secure employment will be able to apply for accommodation through the Independent Living Programme. The rent for the accommodation is capped at a third of the young person’s salary, which means that a young person earning an average of around £18,000 would only be paying around £500 a month.
This is a significant reduction compared to the current market rents for new tenants in either city.
While the number of homes and the initial geographical spread of the programme may seem small, there are plans to expand it nationwide as soon as its viability has been proven.
The goal of the programme is to provide a long-term, scalable solution that addresses the issues of youth homelessness and unemployment by providing young people with the support they need to secure stable housing and ongoing employment.
A scalable solution
British entrepreneur and philanthropist Javad Marandi is supporting Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme.
Marandi, who serves as the project’s co-chair, is optimistic about its potential and hopes that it can eventually expand nationwide. Given the right backing in terms of investment, gifts of land, donations and employment opportunities, the project has the potential to eradicate youth homelessness by 2027.
With rising rents and the increased cost of living, Marandi is acutely aware that youth homelessness is also on the increase in rural areas and not just in large cities. Homeless people living in rural areas are camping, sofa-surfing, and sheltering in industrial or agricultural buildings which are isolated in location
Marandi states that the biggest challenge facing the growth of the programme at the moment is that it is a novel concept and needs to be proven to potential investors, the government, and employers.
He also highlights that Centrepoint has a wealth of experience in providing accommodation, managing housing, and supporting young people in building successful lives.
“At the moment, the biggest hurdle to the growth of Centrepoint Independent Living is the novelty of the programme. 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.”
The cost of building each home through the scheme is estimated at £70,000, which Marandi believes will decrease as more companies and investors get involved. He hopes that as the unit cost decreases, the overall economic viability of the scheme will increase. In the long term, he hopes that the project could be effective in addressing homelessness among all age groups.
A practical way forward
The key to the Centrepoint plan is that it addresses the needs of different stakeholders, offering employers, investors and young people themselves an opportunity to benefit. This gives it strong foundations on which to achieve its ambitious aims.