Following the publication of the LivShare report, LivShare creator Andy Redfearn shares his views on the concept and what he hopes to achieve with the model
Livshare was developed in response to the observation that accommodation options for single people – especially young single people – in housing need and on low incomes are few and far between. Within the current housing market, the needs of this cohort are too often overlooked and are simply not addressed by the wider housing sector, funders or Government. Where do people relying on low paid employment – jobs in the service sector, the arts, internships, even many entry level graduate jobs – get housing they can actually afford? What about young people starting apprenticeships or entering the work place for the first time; where do they find somewhere to call home?
Current options seem to boil down to an uncomfortable choice between spending exorbitant chunks of your income in rent, or even having to share bedrooms in some cases. Perhaps, for those who can, simply never moving out of the parental home becomes the only viable option. Higher rents, deposits, and rent in advance mean securing a rental home of their choice becomes a distant dream for the many who only feel like they are just about getting by.
This is where LivShare comes it. The concept is based on purpose built, large shared houses that utilise modern, modular construction techniques, creating an option that is both an aspirational and affordable choice for single people. Rents and utility costs are intended to be kept as low as possible. At the same time, LivShare offers excellence in design to ensure that, while providing the core essentials like safe and individual bedrooms, all the best of the shared living opportunity is realised. Think Co-Living without the expensive add-ons.
The concept has been developed with Commonweal Housing, who have been a fantastic partner. When I pitched the idea to them, they got it immediately and have supported me in writing the report and funding the design work from architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Commonweal look at finding new housing solutions to address social injustice – we both feel LivShare fits perfectly as a potential housing solution for the hundreds of thousands of single young people who have been neglected by the current housing market.
The recently launched report seeks to stimulate the sector to consider purpose built shared housing as a credible and fundable new housing offer. With shared housing often providing the standard housing offer for young single people leaving home or moving to a new area (more single people in London share in than live on their own) I believe Livshare can provide a real, credible housing option for individuals who are virtually priced out of the rental market and for whom very few genuinely affordable options exist. This report was produced to generate interest from housing providers, local authorities, and funders to support a LivShare pilot, and start providing decent, affordable renting options for a neglected cohort
LivShare: Reclaiming the HMO provides further details, including plans, on the LivShare concept. The full report, which can be viewed here, outlines plans for a new, genuinely affordable shared housing model for single people on low incomes.