On Wednesday 6 March, Londoners will be urged to open the thousands of spare bedrooms across the Capital and provide a home for a homeless young person as part of a new Supported Lodgings Scheme, launched by the charity Centrepoint.
Commuters at The Fulcrum, Broadgate, near Liverpool Street Station, will be confronted by a giant bedroom, erected by the youth homelessness charity as it begins its drive to recruit hosts willing to provide a home and a supportive environment. Applications are welcome from people in all occupations and walks of life.
The Department of Work and Pensions estimates 80,000 Londoners receiving housing benefit may have at least one spare room*. Social housing represents only 24 per cent of London’s housing stock. So, while there are no figures on the number of available rooms in private properties, the charity believes the total number of unused rooms is far greater.
Under the scheme hosts would be trained to foster-care standard before being matched with a homeless young person aged 16-25. Placements would last for between three months and two years. In that time, as well as support from Centrepoint, the host would receive £50 weekly to cover household costs and Local Housing Allowance for a single room in their area.
Hosts will not be required to give the same level of support as a foster parent. Instead they will provide a safe, friendly environment where a vulnerable young person can learn life skills vital to independent living, such as cooking and cleaning, normally passed on by a family member.
Centrepoint is the leading charity for homeless young people aged 16-25, which works with around 1,000 young people a year in London and the north east. It’s launching the Supported Lodgings Scheme to help young people who will flourish better in a home environment.
* Figures from DWP impact assessment ‘Housing Benefit: ‘Under Occupation of Social Housing’ http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/social-sector-housing-under-occupation-wr2011-ia.pdf