Centrepoint, the UK’s leading youth homelessness charity, has completed development to refurbish six self-contained one-bedroom homes in Waltham Forest for young people ready to move on from homelessness hostels. 

The housing development is part of the charity’s Independent Living Programme, which seeks to provide 300 young people a home and entry level or apprenticeship roles that lead to full time employment.

Centrepoint has refurbished six one bedroom homes, upgrading and refreshing all of the self-contained flats to its Independent Living accommodation high standard. 

One in five young people using Centrepoint’s services are ready to move on but they are unable to do so due to a shortage of affordable homes, increasingly restrictive welfare policies and reductions in local authority benefits. 

The Independent Living Programme seeks to tackle the shortage of quality affordable accommodation, free up hostel beds Centrepoint currently provides for those in dire need, and give young people a real future of independence.

As part of the Independent Living Programme, Centrepoint aim to only charge a young person approximately one-third of their salary as rent. This would typically mean a 20-year old young person in Manchester, earning minimum wage (currently £6.56 per hour or £1,050 per month) would pay around £350 per month to live in a self-contained apartment. However, Centrepoint’s intention is to work with ethical employers to ensure young people are earning above minimum wage which would typically mean someone in London earning £18,000 per year would pay around than £500 per month to live independently.

Centrepoint chief executive, Seyi Obakin, said:

“Our mission at Centrepoint has always been to support homeless young people in getting a job and a home. The Independent Living Programme builds on that idea by making housing costs affordable and giving young people the foundation they need to start a career. We are so pleased to have secured planning permission in Southwark and hope other councils see the importance of what we’re doing to give homeless young people a real future and want to get involved too.”

Katelin, 19, a resident at Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme, said:

“There’s a lack of affordable housing which means people can’t move on from unstable living situations. I was on the council’s waiting list for social housing for two years without anything happening.

“It works for me to live here and live quite independently, but then still have staff members around to educate me on a few things like bills and meter readings. I was never taught that growing up.

“I never used to be able to save any of my wages, all my money would go on bills, but now I can put money into savings and still feel like I have money to live off. When I leave here I plan to buy a house or a flat.”

Sally Orlopp, Director of The Independent Living Programme, said:

“I’ve been working with disadvantaged people for over 25 years, and this is the most exciting and innovative programme that has tangible results in transforming young people’s lives. With an investment of almost £150,000 from Centerpoint, we’re already maximising new opportunities by upgrading and refurbishing these six homes, with an ambition to create 300 within the coming year.”

On 13 November 2019, Centrepoint’s patron HRH The Duke of Cambridge officially opened Centrepoint’s first Independent Living Programme offering, Petterson Haberdashers Apprenticeship House, a residential community for seven young people who are enrolled in apprenticeship programmes in Lewisham. 

The Programme is rapidly expanding, with planning permission awarded by Southwark Council to build 33 modular homes in Peckham, and a property purchased for the programme in Manchester. Centrepoint is currently also in talks with councils in Barnet, Hounslow, and Eccles. Centrepoint are interested in connecting with land and development opportunities and industry partners to further expand the Independent Living Programme.