The cost-of-living crisis and strained public services are increasing the risk of vulnerable young people falling through the cracks.
The number of young people who are sleeping rough, sofa surfing or in temporary accommodation is on the increase.
While all young people are potentially at risk through events, rising rents and family breakdowns, care leavers and those with mental health challenges are most exposed.
A new scheme being developed by Centrepoint, a charity which provides accommodation and support to homeless people aged 16-25, is aiming to end the scandal of homelessness among young adults.
Its ambitious Independent Living Programme will initially see the construction of 300 homes in London and Manchester which will be made available to rent
Pivotal to the scheme is entrepreneur and investor, Javad Marandi. As co-chair of the programme, and a man with an extensive track record of delivery in both business and charitable work, he’s ambitious to create something truly transformative.
“I am confident that when we can show concrete evidence of how this scheme works, both practically and economically, we will be looking at building 30,000 homes across the country, helping people whatever their stage of life.”
It sounds ambitious, but how will the scheme actually work?
A ‘win-win’ programme for the future
Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme is designed to be a ‘win-win’ programme for young people and potential employers. To be able to apply for a property via the programme, young people will need to have secured employment through the charity’s work scheme.
This scheme supports at-risk young people in their search for jobs with skills training, further education, career advice, job applications, CVs and interview tips. They’re then matched with businesses that sign up for the Centrepoint Works scheme. Once they’re employed, they can then apply for a home via the Independent Living Scheme.
Throughout the process, the young people will receive support to achieve their goals and establish independent lives. Employers who sign up for the scheme will be able to access a pool of motivated and supported young people keen to establish careers and prove themselves.
They have security where they live and because their rent is capped, they can afford to take work that may not be as well-paid initially but can offer them the potential to progress. It’s hoped that as the scheme grows, it will go some way to tackling the UK’s recruitment and retention problems.
“At the moment, the biggest hurdle to the growth of Centrepoint Independent Living is the novelty of the programme,” says Marandi. “It’s never been done before and, as with anything revolutionary, you have to prove the concept to all interested parties: potential investors, national and local government, and employers looking to sign up for the scheme. There is a chance for all to benefit and to be part of something truly extraordinary.”
Centrepoint hopes that more companies will help by donating money, property and land as well as providing employment opportunities for young people.
A realistic business model
As someone with an extensive background in business, Javad Marandi has been keen throughout to ensure that the scheme was built on a realistic business model and would be attractive to potential investors.
Each home built by the scheme costs up £70,000 but if more companies support the programme, then this price decreases and the scheme becomes more economically viable.
Marandi believes the investment case will become even more compelling as it develops, gathers momentum and is rolled out in more locations. Because Centrepoint is highly experienced at managing properties and tenants, the scheme is already producing yields in line with current commercial rates.
The greater support the scheme receives in terms of expertise, land, property and income, the cheaper the build costs become and the greater the yield. Centrepoint expects yields to reach two to three times the current rates, making it very attractive to investors across the board, including pension and investment funds.
With Javad Marandi on board, Centrepoint can draw on a wealth of experience in delivering large-scale commercial and philanthropic projects.
In 2017, he founded The Marandi Foundation, with his wife Narmina, which is dedicated to providing disadvantaged young people and communities in the UK with access to training and educational opportunities, as well as mental health and well-being support services.
While these are challenging times for the voluntary sector, by combining innovative thinking with a keen commercial sense, Centrepoint could deliver something truly transformative.