Single people who are struggling to find affordable accommodation are being matched up with householders with a spare bedroom in a pioneering scheme.
More potential landlords are needed to get involved in the initiative to reduce homelessness, which is being run by Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils in partnership with Solo Housing.
The councils will refer single people they work with to the Solo Housing Lodging Scheme, while others may refer themselves or be put in touch by agencies. Solo Housing will carry out a detailed assessment of each person’s circumstances and needs. Some people may be working but on very low incomes while others may have been through the breakup of a relationship or be homeless or at risk of becoming so.
If the person is suitable to become a lodger, Solo Housing will carefully match them to a landlord living in the area, whom they have visited to see the accommodation being offered and discuss any criteria the landlord is seeking in a prospective tenant.
Solo Housing’s Chief Executive, Carolyn Howell said, ‘It’s a very simple and successful model, Solo provides practical help and advice to anyone who has a spare room in their house that they would like to rent out. At the same time, we will use our assessment criteria to match suitable people to available rooms, providing advice and support to single people who may like to take up a lodging offer. The service aims to provide a simple solution for those who would like to rent out a room, perhaps to help them pay their bills, or for companionship, and at the same time provides a housing solution for a single person who may not be able to access other suitable affordable accommodation on their own.”
One of the first landladies to sign up for the Solo Housing Lodging Scheme is Joan, who lives in the Babergh District. She said “As an elderly female, who lives independently, I didn’t want to be alone, especially at night, so taking in a lodger that met with my requirements was very helpful. Solo met with the prospective lodger to make sure they were suitable for my circumstances and helped me with the paperwork. It all seemed very thorough. I really appreciate the company and social interaction and my current lodger helps with small jobs around the home.”
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils’ Homelessness Team took 227 homeless applications in 2016/17. In addition to this, they prevented homelessness in more than 450 cases and are hoping this scheme will help to settle more people at risk of becoming homeless into permanent accommodation.
Cllr Jan Osborne, Babergh District Council Cabinet Member for Housing said, “We are delighted to be joining forces with Solo Housing and rolling out this scheme across Babergh. What is so wonderfully unique about this initiative is that it not only helps those who are desperate to find somewhere safe and affordable to live, but also provides many wonderful benefits to those who are prepared to share their homes with a lodger.”
Cllr Jill Wilshaw, Mid Suffolk District Council Cabinet Member for Housing said, “Tackling the problem of homelessness and ensuring people have somewhere to live is critically important to us as we know that housing is key to the health and wellbeing of our communities. Our homelessness team already do an outstanding job to help anyone who comes to us for help and this partnership will provide valuable additional support to help them tackle this problem.”