Swindon homeless charity is given £40,000 boost

Swindon Advertiser: Cher Sawyer-Smith Cher Sawyer-Smith

HOMELESS charity Threshold Housing Link has been awarded a £40,000 grant for its innovative rent scheme to help single homeless people find their own home.

The money comes from the national charity Crisis and forms part of a three-year programme, funded by the Government, to reduce the number of people without a roof over their head.

Threshold, based in John Street, helps more than 750 homeless people in Swindon every year. The 30 staff operate homes and hostels for men and women, as well as a Street Outreach service, and resettlement projects for teenagers and adults.

Chief executive Cher Sawyer-Smith said: “This grant from Crisis is invaluable.

“The demand for our services has never been greater and the pressure on our resources is relentless.

“We are turning away people from our hostels every week, and as the economic situation shows no sign of improving, the people who come to us are in danger of becoming invisible.“ The grant from Crisis will fund Threshold’s Key Scheme for single homeless people who are having difficulty finding somewhere to live. It provides landlords with an agreed payment of rent in advance so homeless people can leave bed and breakfast accommodation and find a more permanent home.

“When people end up on the streets, it’s difficult for them to move into private accommodation because some landlords don’t accept anyone on benefits,” said Mrs Sawyer-Smith.

“Our KeyScheme guarantees payment of rent in advance for up to six months. It means our clients get a chance to settle and look for a job. We also offer advice about housing and financial planning so they don’t end up on the streets again” she added.

“It’s a win-win scheme. Landlords receive guaranteed payments. Clients regain some stability and independence. And bed spaces are freed up in Threshold’s hostels.

“Some landlords are sceptical about taking on homeless people. But with our support, they are willing to give them a chance.”

Crisis is the national charity for single homeless people. It offers education, employment, housing and wellbeing services, and campaigns to prevent people from becoming homeless.

Its grant to Threshold forms part of its three-year Crisis Private Renting Programme, funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government. By 2014 it will have awarded £10.8m to voluntary-sector-led schemes across England, helping single homeless people to find and keep hold of decent rented homes.

The programme is funding 120 schemes all over England, ranging from projects with rough sleepers to supporting ex-offenders.

In its first two years, those schemes created 3,197 tenancies, with a 76 per cent sustainment rate for at least six months.

The programme aims to create 8,000 tenancies nationally over the three years.

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