What is Centrepoint doing to address the homeless crisis in London?
Around 10,000 young people end up sleeping on the streets of London every year, but these official figures do not take into account those who are living in temporary accommodation.
That includes B&Bs and hostels, as well as the sofa surfers who spend a few nights sleeping at a different friend’s house before moving on, or who bed down in refuges and night shelters.
The reality is that numbers are likely to be far worse, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic forces more young people into poverty.
In a bid to tackle the homelessness crisis, Centrepoint, the leading charity for young homeless, has pledged not only to reduce these figures, but to end youth homelessness by 2037.
The charity, which helps vulnerable young people build a future they can believe in, is taking a bold approach to the homelessness crisis.
Of course, it will continue to offer support to those who need it whatever their circumstances, as well as eventually help them to move on.
To do this, Centrepoint is harnessing the support of those who can make a real difference.
The appointment of two new board members, British entrepreneur and investor Javad Marandi OBE, and financier Jamie Reuben, is being seen as a game-changer because it is a collaboration that is totally results-driven.
It’s not only about helping raise the charity’s profile, but being part of a credible new approach to youth homelessness.
Marandi and Reuben have been appointed co-chairs of Centrepoint’s Growth Board, which is at the forefront of the charity’s Independent Living Programme (IPL) – the most ambitious project ever to be undertaken in the youth homelessness charity’s 50-year history.
It’s a multi-million pound project unlike anything else in the world, and is a major innovation in the efforts to stop youth homelessness.
It will enable the most vulnerable young people to build sustainable careers without the simultaneous burden of market housing costs.
Collective action is needed, because a critical lack of social housing means that many young people are struggling to find homes that they can afford.
They may be presented with work opportunities, but how can they make the most of those if they’re stuck on housing waiting lists or don’t earn enough to secure a deposit for a new home?
This is where Centrepoint’s revolutionary new approach to homelessness comes in, because it is creating places that young people can actually call their own.
The first modular built homes have been given the green light by Southwark Council, and they’ll be the start of a programme that will be rolled out to other areas in the UK.
In the past, temporary accommodation has been the main solution when it comes to helping the young homeless and Centrepoint will continue to provide this for those living rough.
However, the modular housing scheme is the first of what will become permanent, long-term solutions to address the homeless crisis.
No longer will young people face the uncertainty of living in temporary accommodation, or in a shelter, but instead they’ll get the chance to move to a more permanent and affordable way of living.
As accommodation in big cities, especially London, becomes out of reach for the person on an apprenticeship or receiving a minimum wage, these modular homes are a lifeline.
And, once a young person makes the move from temporary accommodation at Centrepoint into their own home, the space that they were occupying is freed for someone on the streets to take it.
A total of 33 new single-occupancy homes for young people will be built in Peckham, on the site of eight old apartment blocks, and the scheme aims to give 300 young people a home and entry-level or apprenticeship roles that lead to full-time employment.
It’s all about providing affordable housing for those young people who are ready to move on but basically can’t afford the accommodation to be able to do so.
Centrepoint’s scheme is seen as creating a cost-effective solution to genuinely affordable living. Not only will the project be less expensive to complete than a traditional build, but young people will only be charged approximately one-third of their salary as rent.
The Peckham scheme is just the start, because Centrepoint is also talking to councils in Barnet, Hounslow, and Waltham Forest, as well as Manchester, with the aim of rolling it out to other areas.
It is also seeking partners to help develop the Independent Living Programme.