Commonweal’s most recent project looks to offer an alternative to traditional shared housing provision.
Commonweal’s Peer Landlords project seeks to test a model of shared housing provision where more advanced clients are able to provide informal, positive, role model peer-support to other clients in a structured, supportive accommodation arrangement. In place since March 2011, we are testing this innovative model with two leading organisations:
- Catch 22 is delivering a Peer Landlord project for young people
- Thames Reach is delivering ’The Peer Landlord London’ project – focused on those moving on from hostels and seeking to secure employment.
Peer Landlord accommodation will offer an alternative to the traditional models of shared supported housing, challenging the notion that private, rented shared housing is an unattractive option. Current government policy is forcing more and more people into the private rented section yet many people are without the skills and experience to make such accommodation work for them.
We aim to have a dozen houses in north and south London let by Catch 22 and Thames Reach on a shared tenancy basis, providing people at risk of becoming homeless with quality and affordable private accommodation. We hope the key to the success will lie in the support they receive from a Peer Landlord, where clients can learn from each other, learn the skills required for shared housing, understand the costs and budgets of living in private accommodation and become better prepared for more sustainable, independent living arrangements in the future, while also holding down a job.
Because Peer Landlords will not be professionals but either another current or former service user, they will be required to be a positive role model, with responsibility for making ‘their house’ run smoothly. They will not be paid to provide any formal support to the lodger. This is about supportive housing, not supported housing. Peer Landlords will be trained in key areas such as basic housing management and maintenance awareness, as well as financial literacy – from paying bills to managing money, critical for supporting lodgers and ensuring the shared housing model works.
The opportunity to live in a house with a Peer Landlord will be used as a progression opportunity and incentive. Only when clients, who are already known to and supported by our partners, have demonstrated some progression will they become eligible for this option. As part of the eligibility into the programme, they must ‘prepare to share’: to anticipate the sorts of situations and challenges they will face, and agree in advance to strategies for dealing with them. The formal agreement for sharers will provide them with the right to seek help and mediation if either sharer is unhappy with how things are going.
Commonweal Housing has appointed the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York as external expert evaluators to ensure we capture all the learning from ththis exciting new venture. The project team will be lead by Dr Anwen Jones.