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I facilitated an Open Space Technology session at the South-East regional network meeting earlier today. The group looked at two questions: how can we make it affordable for young people to work whilst living at a Foyer?; and how do we open up access to the private rented sector for young people when moving on from Foyers?

Brief summaries of each discussion follow:

How do we make it affordable for young people to work whilst living in a Foyer?

We immediately identified the intensive housing management charge which is added to young people’s rent as the source of the problem. We discussed how to embed aspiration in young people, such that making oneself temporarily worse off, or at least not much better off, by working is seen as a rational decision by young people.

We discussed how, as landlords, we could provide incentives for young people that are based on what we ourselves like to do, such as go out to eat, or to the cinema/theatre, or buy new clothes, go on holidays. Perhaps there are companies that would provide in-kind donations of these things that young people in Foyers who are working might have access to. Finally, we discussed the possibility of forming a group that could approach companies on a collective basis, perhaps with a Board of Trustees made up of young people as the ‘gatekeepers’ or ‘grant-givers’ of such a fund/bank of incentives.

How do we open up access to the private rented sector for young people moving on from Foyers?

We discussed how it was very different in different areas: those areas outside London generally finding it much easier to find move-on accommodation than those in London boroughs. In Ipswich, for example, when a resident has been at the Foyer for approaching two years their case is automatically escalated through the local area’s letting system, something which amazed delegates from London! Delegates generally agreed that more needed to be done by staff to promote the private rented sector as a viable option to young people, and that this needed to be done consistently with all staff, as some still seem to promote social housing as the ‘holy grail’ of move-on.

We identified a number of barriers in access to the private rented sector; chief among these being access to deposits, and poor/non-existent relationships with private rented sector landlords. We suggested that there is a real need for a dedicated role within Foyers to progress this, as neither managers nor support staff have the time available to dedicate to developing such relationships. We identified the work of Habitat for Humanity in bringing empty homes back into use as a model that could be pursued, and also looked at rent deposit schemes that facilitate move-on to the private rented sector.

This content was originally posted by Steve Hillman on February 21, 2013


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