Dare to share
Many of you will have lived in shared single housing at one time in your life - maybe a long time ago, sharing a flat with new friends or while studying at university. Now imagine what it would have been like if this type of accommodation had not been available for you.
The reality is that shared housing for single adults is not available in the social housing sector across the UK, as traditionally social landlords have not been providers of this type of housing. We at Origin Housing believe shared single housing is crucial for young people particularly with the limited access to affordable housing and the extension of the LHA cap to single-under 35s.
Origin’s shared housing scheme
Origin’s Enfield single housing service provides 305 single rooms in shared housing in the London borough of Enfield. We give a higher priority to applicants who are homeless and in employment, training or education. Many of our homeless applicants are under 25, have been sofa surfing and have exhausted the good will of friends or extended family.
Renting self contained accommodation in the borough is almost impossible for single adults due to the rising rental prices in the private sector. What makes us unique is that, provided one has a local connection to the borough of Enfield, anyone can apply to us directly. We manage our own application and assessment process and have developed an allocation policy to support priority being given to homeless and employed. We also work closely with LB Enfield, taking direct referrals from their housing advisors.
What makes our service a success?
We set our standards high - our rooms come fully furnished with good quality, durable and modern furniture. Carpets are regularly renewed and mattresses are always new. Our communal lounges have been refurbished in a modern style, making them inviting living spaces for guests and tenants. As a result, nobody refuses a room based on its condition.
Our three dedicated housing officers offer an intensive housing management service, helping residents to understand the house rules and the terms of their licence. We manage our own rent collection, lettings and anti-social behaviour (ASB) investigations and we prepare our rooms for re-let.
We also have a dedicated assessment and support officer to assist the more vulnerable of our applicants as well as providing a seven-week 'settling in' programme to our new younger residents. The programme helps new tenants settle and sustain their tenancy. The support we provide includes budget management, understanding tenancy agreements, encourages employment and training, getting on with your neighbours, community involvement and healthy living/cooking skills.
Sharing is caring
If you think the risks are too high, think again. Take care to use the right form of tenancy and utilise as many rooms in the property as you can, set your service charges sensibly, providing the necessary services to a great standard at the best price and you will be able to provide a shared single housing service with a healthy surplus.
The service we provide is essential to single adults under 35 and so rewarding to those who deliver it. One particular applicant stands out for me - he was a 22 year old graduate working part time at Waitrose. When his girlfriend’s mum asked him to leave her house he had nowhere to go, so he slept under the adventure playground in the local park. That was until some local youths decided to attack him for the few pounds he had in his pocket while he slept… and that was the day he hit rock bottom. The very next day he came to our service.
I ask you now, would you dare to share?
Alev Horgan, head of housing care & support
You might also like. . .
- Blog: Spare to share
- Blog: Permanent solutions to a temporary problem
- Event: Homelessness and allocations conference and exhibition (29-30 November, Leicester)
- Webinar: Homelessness prevention - where are we now? (10 October, 11am-12pm)