The number of children and young people in care is growing. As research shows, it has gone up by 28% in the past decade. Once children in care pass the age of 16, they move into a semi-independent accommodation with a number of outreach support hours. There are many private care companies, so called providers, who offer semi-independent accommodation for young people to local authorities. Local authorities commission those providers to house young people and support them in their day to day lives.
Care leavers require different levels of support. From a few hours per week to full, 24/7 care packages. Some young people only require support with applying for benefits and registering with GPs or colleges. Others have the need for round-the-clock care. That includes grocery shopping and preparing meals.
Some semi-independent accommodation providers own their properties, but the great majority simply rent them either directly from private landlords or through letting agencies. Additionally, providers employ outreach workers who support young people in their daily lives. Outreach workers provide practical help and emotional support. They offer advice on anything from budgeting to preparing healthy meals, to choosing and applying for a college, to moving around a new area. This list is never-ending. Outreach workers should be qualified and trained to support young people. Also, outreach workers should understand young people’s needs and problems they may be experiencing. The job of an outreach worker requires certain personality and skills. First of all, assertiveness, patience, and clear boundaries. The job is not easy but extremely rewarding. Some young people will receive a few hours per week with their outreach worker, whereas others will be accompanied at the property 24/7. The amount of support depends on the needs and the situation of a particular young person. It is the local authority who establishes and assesses the needs of each young person on an individual basis.
Letting Agents and Landlords
Because many people do not understand what supporting care leavers entails, semi-independent accommodation providers very often struggle with sourcing properties for their young people. Some landlords and agents will not let to providers as they may believe that their property would be left in the incapable hands of a young person. They are scared off by potential damages caused to the property. This is a misconception stemming from lack of information. Usually, it is the provider who is the tenant and not the young person. Young person is merely an occupant. It is the provider who takes full responsibility for the property. Additionally, most providers have their own maintenance teams who take care of any repair issues. They will also decorate and fix any damages. Moreover, not all landlords are willing to accept company lets. Essentially, a company let is what a provider is after. Additionally, providers usually seek long term lets. Even 10 years +. This is an excellent opportunity for most landlords.
To Sum Up
Overall, with the number of children and young people in care growing there is a huge demand for semi-independent accommodation. As many providers are struggling to source properties, Novum would like to shed more light on what renting a property to a semi-independent accommodation provider involves. Also, we would like to ask landlords and letting agents to consider renting to providers or to, at least, give some thought to the idea.
If you are a provider struggling to source properties, please contact us. We specialise in helping semi-independent accommodation providers find suitable properties for their young people.