Posted 24.04.2019

Changing the face of shared housing

With homelessness rising across the UK, and the demand for affordable one-bedroom accommodation outstripping supply, Rooms4U was established in October 2016 to offer young people in the Vale of Glamorgan a housing option through affordable shared accommodation. 

Set up as a pilot programme for 2 years, Rooms4U was funded by Crisis through their Help-To-Rent scheme. Hosted by Newydd Housing Association alongside the Vale of Glamorgan Council and other local social landlords, the project undertook research to develop and implement a shared housing scheme within Homes4U, the choice based lettings scheme operating in the local authority. 

Rooms4U brought young people together to support each other within a home they could call their own. Pre-tenancy training, employment support and matching criteria were all used to ensure that tenants could sustain a tenancy and look positively towards the future in a supportive environment. 

Newydd found that tenants who engaged with training initiatives, were volunteering or in employment had more sustainable tenancies. Therefore, during the second year of the project the criteria was extended to give priority to applicants who matched this criteria. 

Of the 21 people who had tenancies as part of the scheme, 14 continued to live in their shared accommodation for more than 12 months with 8 people moving on for positive reasons including moves to take up employment and education, rekindling family relationships and moving in with a partner. From being part of the Roooms4U scheme, tenants also expressed feeling more confident in managing a tenancy, had improved their employability skills and subsequently in a position to move on to self-contained accommodation. Hazel Davies, Rooms4U Officer at Newydd said, “We believe that many tenants would have failed to maintain a tenancy independently without the opportunity to develop tenancy management and life skills. There were some challenges for tenants mainly around the implementation and the affordability of shared housing. Future shared housing projects should consider allocating a suitable budget for council tax or consider this cost when setting rent and service charges.

“In terms of viability for a housing association, shared housing can be a feasible option with the appropriate procedures and resources in place. A dedicated member of staff is needed to develop and manage shared options as this is a specialist housing provision that requires additional housing management and support. For the model to be self-sustaining in future, we have realised that the conversion of three-bedroom properties are most suitable and would allow for sufficient income to fund the role of a Shared Housing Officer.” 

Read Hazel's blog here.

Paul Roberts, Chief Executive of Newydd said, “The Rooms4U project has evidenced the need for alternative housing options for young people where they are supported to develop tenancy management skills and employment opportunities to enable them to go onto manage self contained accommodation. With the implementation of Universal Credit, we’ve seen the impact this has on young people and projects like this evidence why tenancy management support is so important for young people to develop”.

The final report can be found in full here:

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