Riverside is investing £1.86m in to a new initiative to help rough sleepers into their own home.
Building on the government’s Everyone In scheme to protect rough sleepers from COVID-19, which brought them into emergency accommodation, The Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP) provides local authorities with funding to deliver new tenancies and support for people sleeping rough who would otherwise face challenges that prevent them from accessing accommodation.
Under the NSAP scheme, Riverside has 38 properties in the portfolio, which came from its housing stock or was purchased on the open market.
The accommodation is a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments and houses in Liverpool, Hull, Rochdale, Swale, and Medway.
In partnership with local authorities, an additional £1.46m grant funding came from Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government and Homes England.
In Liverpool, Riverside has converted 10 properties in their housing stock to one-bedroom homes. The first tenant to move in is 40-year-old Peter, who has intermittently slept rough for more than six years.
“I’m delighted with my home, I’m really happy. It’s a wonderful experience to have somewhere to call home that I haven’t had for more than six years,” explains Peter, talking about his one-bedroom terrace home in Liverpool.
He added: “During that time, I’ve slept rough on the streets and occasionally used a night shelter. It was really difficult, especially during the cold, harsh winters.
“I have recently passed my security qualification, which means I can now start looking for work as well. But for now I’m settling into my new home, which is something I’ve been missing for a very long time.”
Brian Jennings, Riverside’s business development manager, who is overseeing the NSAP project, said: “It is great to see Peter settling into his new home after so long on the streets, who otherwise would have found it difficult to secure his own place.
“Homes under NSAP are given an assured shorthold tenancy, which offers tenants the security of knowing that they can make it their home and plan for the future, however long they wish.
“Some of the properties under the NSAP scheme are being converted from two bedrooms to one – for instance in Liverpool, we have relocated the bathroom upstairs. By doing this we are helping to fulfil the national shortage of single occupancy properties.”
As experienced providers of supported accommodation and homelessness services, Riverside is also delivering varying elements of support to people housed under the NSAP scheme.
Support to tenants is wide-ranging from help with utility bills, getting new furniture and appliances connected, social security benefits, and sustaining their tenancy.
Sally Nicholson, Riverside’s head of Operations for Care and Support, said: “In addition to providing accommodation in some regions, we are delivering the support element in other parts of the country, such as Liverpool, Gravesham, Guildford, and Mole Valley.
“Support is individual to the person’s needs – our strengths-based approach means that we work with people to achieve their goals.
“We also link people with positive peer and community groups to help them get settled, which is important to prevent isolation and break the cycle of homelessness.”
Riverside is one of the largest provider of homelessness services in the country, and its Care and Support operation works with over 16,000 customers every year.
Are you a social housing professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.