Today, Lewisham Council celebrates 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 rehoused so many more applicants.”
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.
100th move case study: From sofa surfing to a home to call his own in Wolverhampton
Twenty-three-year-old Mr R went on a trip to Jamaica to visit his family. On his arrival back to the UK, to Mr R’s surprise, his partner at the time ended the relationship and asked him to move out. From that point on Mr R was left homeless so resorted to sofa surfing. Unable to secure a job due to his new homeless status, Mr R found himself trapped in this difficult anxiety-inducing situation for two years.
Desperate to find his own home, after two years of sofa surfing, Mr R went to his local council Lewisham for help. He was prepared to move outside of his area and so, the housing officer at Lewisham Council told Mr R about social housing properties immediately available via Homefinder UK’s national move-on scheme. He contacted the organisation without delay. Mr R told his Homefinder UK case manager that he was willing to relocate anywhere in the UK – he just wanted a place to call home. A few days later his case manager informed him of an available property in Wolverhampton and arranged a viewing. Mr R was very pleased with the property and could not believe that he would finally have a place to call his own; he signed the tenancy the same day.
My R said of the move:
“I am so thankful for all of 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”.