During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that youth homelessness is a crisis on top of a crisis. At a time when unemployment is skyrocketing and the home is not always the safest place, the amount of young people at risk of homelessness is on the rise. A solution is urgently needed.
Centrepoint has a bold new plan to tackle the ongoing problem of youth homelessness, currently afflicting more than 100,000 young people across the UK. We want to provide our young people with a home and a job so that they can live independently. We call it the Independent Living Programme.
So many young people struggle to live independently because of a whole host of reasons, including a lack of social housing, high rents and upfront rent costs, landlords’ reluctance to let to tenants receiving benefits, and the fact that under 25s get less financial support through the benefits system.
One in five young people using Centrepoint’s services are ready to move on but they simply have nowhere to go.
We want to help change this. The Independent Living Programme seeks to build 300 new homes across London and Greater Manchester by 2021 for young people to live in independently, and secure entry level or apprenticeship roles that lead to full time employment for all 300 young people.
We are working with the principle of the art of the possible, and are looking to create homes by refurbishing existing properties, building new developments and utilising new solutions including modular designs to offer affordable living. This will tackle head-on the shortage of quality affordable accommodation, free up hostel beds Centrepoint currently provides for those in dire need, and give young people a real future of independence. We will ensure that housing is available and affordable, so under the programme, a young person will never be charged more than 1/3 of their salary as rent.
A project like this costs a significant amount of money, and Centrepoint is calling on the government, local councils and the private sector to assist with land and development support, ethical Employers to provide apprenticeship opportunities, and funding to the tune of £15 million.
Our patron HRH The Duke of Cambridge officially opened Centrepoint’s first Independent Living Programme offering, Apprenticeship House, in November last year. It is now home to seven young people completing apprenticeships, and we are delighted that they are already thriving in their new work and home environments.
As we head into a winter season that devastatingly sees COVID-19 cases on the rise, we need more than ever to support vulnerable young people to have a safe, warm, affordable home. By fulfilling the vision of our Independent Living Programme, we believe we will be taking considerable steps closer to resolving the crisis of youth homelessness. Together we can indeed give all young people living in the UK a bright future.
To support Centrepoint, or for more information about the Independent Living Programme, please visit www.centrepoint.org.uk.