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Shelter Press Release:
Thousands of vulnerable private renters across Greater Manchester were boosted today as the £600,000 test and learn fund for Fair Housing Futures was announced.
The partnership project, hosted by the housing charity Shelter and funded by the Nationwide Foundation, aims to transform the way the private rented sector works for vulnerable* and low-income tenants across the region. Radical new schemes powered by the fund will help people overcome barriers to finding and keeping a private rented home.
Last year, the scheme called for bids from local organisations to improve private renting, and proposals flooded in. Five successful bids have now been announced, plus innovative plans for two new umbrella projects covering local authorities and landlords.
Shelter’s Roli Barker, project manager for Fair Housing Futures, said: “Every day our Shelter front-line services hear from people in life-changing trouble, as a total lack of social housing pushes more and more people into unstable private rentals. Private rented homes can be hard to secure and impossible to afford. The insecurity and threat of eviction can be hugely disruptive for people, especially families with children or vulnerable people.
“This funding from the Nationwide Foundation is an incredible opportunity to create a network of local projects that gets right to the heart of the issues that can hurt vulnerable private renters every day. We want to leave a legacy of practical solutions, that make access to housing not only easier, but fairer.
The Fair Housing Futures project has already mapped out how sky-high rents and poor conditions across Greater Manchester leave many vulnerable renters struggling to survive in what Shelter describes as a “broken” private rented system.
This research** has helped the project to allocate funding to organisations in Greater Manchester for the next two years, as they work to test and develop successful ideas that could be rolled out further, both locally and nationally.
In addition to the five main projects, Fair Housing Futures is also exploring how they can support landlords with a collaborative approach to the ideas they submitted.
And part of the funding will create an umbrella network for local authorities, as ideas are explored city-wide in a bid for the systemic impact the project demands.
Bridget Young, Programme Manager at the Nationwide Foundation, said: “Fair Housing Futures is a collaborative project, using a local partnership approach to giving funding and support to projects that have ideas to improve life for renters. At the Nationwide Foundation, we have a long-term commitment to making sure everyone has a decent home that they can afford, and we’re thrilled that a part of this work is an attempt to transform the private rented sector in Greater Manchester.
“We look forward to learning from the test and learn fund projects and working with Fair Housing Futures to change things for the better in Greater Manchester and then share that learning further afield.”
Andrew Beeput, Chief Officer at The Bond Board, explained: “The aim of our project is to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits that some landlords still have, so that more people can access housing in a system that works better for tenants, letting agents and landlords.
“Housing benefit changes have left many private landlords feeling isolated and confused, often becoming more reluctant to rent to low-income families, who continue to struggle in desperate housing need.
“The role of our new Navigators will help support and train landlords and letting agents to develop their skills and knowledge, so we can increase opportunity for both landlords and tenants.
“And our targeted outreach work will help more tenants on low incomes to find and keep a home and to build better relationships with their landlords. Through the Nationwide Foundation funding we believe we can bring together all the players in the private rented sector, to leave a legacy of a better, fairer system.”
* The project’s working definition of vulnerability is based on the 2018 report Vulnerability amongst Low-Income Households in the Private Rented Sector in England, David Rhodes and Julie Rugg (University of York), which defined those vulnerable in the PRS as households at greater risk of harm for reasons that include, and in some instances combine, economic status and income, age, health and household demographic characteristics. The report considers households to be vulnerable in the PRS if they fall into one of the six vulnerable categories (people with dependent children, long-term illness or disability, the older aged, those in receipt of means-tested and non-means-tested benefits, and recent migrants) and experience at least one of the three measurable harms: not meeting the bedroom standard (i.e. overcrowding), property standards (the quality of properties and the lack of options for lower income households) and After Housing Costs (AHC) poverty (the biggest problem for vulnerable households).
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