The number of homeless people aged between 16 and 25 has been increasing in recent years due to a shortage of housing stock and rising rents.

Young people are at a disadvantage in a competitive rental market, because they often do not earn enough to compete with older, financially stable tenants. This problem is particularly acute for care leavers and the unemployed.

Homelessness can have severe consequences for young people, including loss of stability and social connections, difficulties accessing services, and challenges in education and employment. It can also lead to additional problems like substance addiction and criminal behaviour.

Long-term homelessness can also have a significant impact on life expectancy, with studies showing that the average life expectancy for homeless individuals in the UK is 20 years less than the general population.

A new approach

The UK’s leading youth homelessness charity is introducing a new solution that aims to make a lasting impact.

Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme is a new approach that combines affordable housing with supported employment for vulnerable young people aged between 16 and 25.

The programme is starting with 300 rent-capped, secure homes in Manchester and London, which will be made available to young people at risk of homelessness who have joined the Centrepoint Work Scheme.

The scheme provides young people with the skills, further training, and education they need to enter the workplace and enables them to apply for jobs with participating employers. Those who secure employment through the scheme will be eligible to apply for accommodation through the Independent Living Programme.

Rent for accommodation is capped at a third of the young person’s salary, resulting in a considerable reduction compared to current market rents for new tenants in either city. In practical terms this would mean that a young person earning an average starting salary of around £18,000 per year would only be paying around £500 a month.

Although the number of homes and geographical spread of the programme may be small initially, plans are in place to expand it nationwide once it has been shown to be viable.

Ending youth homelessness

It’s hoped that the scheme will not only address short-term local issues but will provide a blueprint for ending youth homelessness nationwide.

British philanthropist and entrepreneur, Javad Marandi, is the co-chair of the programme. He believes it has the potential to expand with the right support and investment from the government and businesses.

He states that the issue is not limited to urban areas, and that rural parts of England are also experiencing an increase in rough sleeping. He believes that the biggest challenge currently facing the programme’s growth is its novelty and that it must first prove its concept to potential investors, government, and employers.

“At the moment, the biggest hurdle to the growth of Centrepoint Independent Living is the novelty of the programme. It’s never been done before and, as with anything revolutionary, you have to prove the concept to all interested parties: potential investors, national and local government, and employers looking to sign up for the scheme. There is a chance for all to benefit and to be part of something truly extraordinary.”

Marandi encourages businesses to support the programme by donating money, property, land and providing employment opportunities for young people.

Centrepoint can assist employers in finding and retaining staff, while employees are able to access stable and secure housing which allows them to make career decisions based on their passions and interests, rather than financial necessity.

The organisation hopes that by providing concrete evidence of the programme’s effectiveness, it will be able to build 30,000 homes across the country, ultimately helping people at all stages of life.

Marandi emphasises that Centrepoint has extensive experience in providing and managing accommodation, and in helping young people achieve success.

He also points out that each home built by the scheme will cost around £70,000, which is competitive, but that the unit cost will decrease as more companies and investors become involved. As the cost per unit decreases, the overall economic feasibility of the scheme will increase.

An innovative model for the future 

The Centrepoint Independent Living Programme meets the needs and priorities of a range of stakeholders while providing a scalable solution for the future. If the vision comes to fruition, it will transform the lives of countless young people for the better.

Luke Johnson