Lewisham council, the first local authority to re-house 100 homeless applicants
Lewisham council celebrated 100 moves through the use of the Homefinder UK scheme. That is 100 homeless households that now live in permanent social housing in different areas across the UK, are no longer at threat of domestic abuse, sofa surfing or threatened by eviction from a private landlord.
The South London council achieved this in just three years after joining the scheme and saved £580,000 on Temporary Accommodation costs. How did they achieve this?
Jemima Harrison, Housing Solutions Team Leader at Lewisham council says: “From the moment we joined Homefinder UK, we embedded the partnership as a core part of our homeless interviews and personal housing plans. By being realistic about waiting times for London housing and always offering Homefinder UK as an alternative, we have housed so many more applicants.”
Story of Mr R – homeless applicant that is no longer sofa surfing
After a relationship breakdown, Mr R was left homeless and resorted to sofa surfing. He went to his local council, Lewisham for help. The frontline officer introduced Mr R to Homefinder UK as a way to obtain social housing as quickly as possible. Mr R agreed and within a few weeks moved to Wolverhampton through the Homefinder UK scheme.
My R said of the move: “I am so thankful for all my case manger’s superb hard work and support finding me permanent accommodation. The view from my new property is amazing! I will be forever grateful to my case manager and Homefinder UK”.
Lewisham council’s move-on strategy: going the extra mile for the applicants
Other techniques that the south London council has employed to great effect are training frontline officers to equip applicants with the tools needed to be independent. From workshops that help clients gain practical skills such as applying for financial support, to information packages covering all they need to know about their housing options. Simultaneously, Lewisham Council ensures that the most vulnerable applicants are not excluded by providing financial support towards rent arrears, paying rent in advance, or paying for travel and removal costs on a case-by-case basis. The council also uses translation service Language Line so that language barriers do not exempt people from obtaining the help they need. The council uses Crown Savers Fund combined with their annual budget to make this possible.