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Cambridge House and Talbot

Preventing homelessness among high-risk renters

Eviction from private rented housing is the main reason that homelessness is rising in London, and although local authority teams often interact with those at high risk of homelessness, they are generally ill-equipped to help. So Cambridge House devised Safer Renting, a programme that gathers intelligence from local authorities to identify the most at-risk tenants, and then provides those people with tailored advice and hands-on advocacy. The team works with the tenants – who are usually highly marginalised, “invisible” tenants who do not routinely access services from charities or the public sector – to assess their needs and wishes, help them to evaluate possible solutions, and, where appropriate, to seek alternative accommodation. If necessary, they help the tenants to access legal advice and representation, and secure compensation.

In its first year, the Safer Renting programme worked with 170 client households in four boroughs, 78 per cent of whom were threatened with becoming homeless and needed support to sustain their tenancy. Three-quarters were able to stay in their homes, while the other quarter were supported to relocate on their own terms. Not a single household became homeless.

The project costs around £280 per case, less than half the cost of services such as a legal-aid funded housing solicitor, and a fraction of the cost of local authority-funded temporary accommodation. Currently the programme is three years old and supported by a range of grants and four local authority contracts. The charity intends to expand into eight more boroughs by 2020/21.

Charity Awards judge Ruth Davison praised the way the charity shared the learning from the project with other agencies and said their success rate was “phenomenal”.

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