The London Housing Foundation supports local organisations working with homeless people and helping people to avoid becoming homeless in the first place. The Board agree earlier this year to fund Project Vista, a partnership of New Horizon Youth Centre and Network Homes. Here, Network Homes’ Chief Executive Helen Evans explains what the project is all about.
We believe that good homes make everything possible and our mission is to provide quality homes and services for people who need them the most. We know that it takes more than bricks and mortar to build a community, so we invest in supporting our residents and other local people to meet their aspirations and fulfil their potential.
And that’s why, in May 2016, we embarked on a partnership with New Horizon Youth Centre in an innovative project that brings housing associations and the voluntary sector together to find shared solutions to youth homelessness. Under the Project Vista banner, the partnership supports homeless young people (aged 18-25) on low wages or in precarious employment into affordable accommodation.
So far New Horizon Youth Centre has taken on eight units in two shared flats at a reduced rent, with a further 12 units in the pipeline. They act as the managing agent, taking responsibility for rent payment and young people’s support, while we keep the majority of the housing management function. As well as providing housing for homeless young people at a discounted rate, we supply basic kitchen equipment for the flats and individual welcome packs with bedding and toiletries for the young people.
As part of our organisational commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, we give our staff the opportunity to take two days per year away from their day to day role to get involved with a charity and give something back to the community. So, members of our team volunteered to help out and dressed the rooms and communal kitchen/living areas to make the flats feel welcoming. They really enjoyed getting involved and worked hard to make the accommodation feel like home. We have committed to doing the same again when the extra units become available.
Accessing stable housing via Project Vista has really made a difference to the young people themselves. Each of those now living in the Network Homes accommodation was in urgent housing need. Some were sleeping on the streets, others were staying at the family home but experiencing conflict or even abuse, and the rest slept wherever they could, from friends’ sofas to cars.
Despite their homelessness or insecure housing situation, they had managed to find and keep employment or apprenticeships but their wages were too unpredictable or too low to enable them to rent on the private market, and often too high to get into specialist hostel accommodation. They were stuck and at risk of losing their jobs. Accessing stable housing via Project Vista has enabled each of the young people to keep employment or even improve their work circumstances.
We are incredibly proud of our work with Project Vista and of the difference it is making to all those involved. We look forward to continuing to work closely with New Horizon Youth Centre to support the invaluable work they do with homeless young people in London.
Helen Evans, Chief Executive at Network Homes