Housing & Homelessness

GMHP Newsletter

No comments

Greater Manchester Housing Providers Newsletter : Focussing on Food

Motiv8 is a Greater Manchester programme to help unemployed people aged 25 and over.

Hazel Clarke, Head of Jigsaw Support, the lead housing provider for Motiv8, said: “Food donations make a huge difference to some of our clients. We are there to provide support to help them get back on track – but sometimes this involves tackling the most basic of human needs that are a barrier to people being able to progress, such as food and housing. These can be a big part of the tailored support we provide to help our participants move forward with their lives during their Motiv8 journey.”

Recent evaluation found that most of Motiv8s participants are most focussed on receiving support for barriers they are facing in day-to-day life such as housing or mental health needs and with confidence and motivation. This helps them to ‘move on’. Without this, opportunities around education, training or employment can seem unattainable, or unreachable.  Further information about Motiv8 can be found here.

Urban Outreach led a project to make and distribute packed lunches over the summer holidays. An army of local volunteers helped and the final total this year was a huge 67,050 lunches. Bolton Council, Bolton at Home, Seddon and Warburtons provided transport to get the lunches out to the 22 distribution sites across the borough.

GMPA’s food security referral tool pilot is profiled in the newsletter as well, which helps connect people using food banks to first identify suitable income maximisation advice has been set up. The Jigsaw Homes JET team and Action Together Tameside team have been supporting the development and use of the tool.

You can find out more about the project on GMPA’s website. ​

In partnership with Regenda Homes and Onward Housing, Family Action Food Clubs have been running a weekly food pantry out of St Chad’s Centre in Hollinwood, Oldham every Thursday for the local community since April of this year.

In line with Southway Housing Trust’s commitment to going green, external funding allowed them to purchase two new electric refrigerated vans for their ‘Quids In’ food clubs. This proved invaluable to facilitate the move during Covid to delivering food parcels to member’s homes

Last year Southway joined two fuel voucher schemes with other NW housing providers, one coordinated by One Manchester and one by the Housing Association’s Charitable Trust. The schemes helped prepayment customers affected by Covid who were struggling to afford energy top ups. £6,000 worth of vouchers each worth £28 or £49 were given out depending on need and size of household.

The system of purchasing vouchers online and issuing a code by text to recipients who then redeem them at PayPoint outlets, worked particularly well at a time when everyone was reliant on contacting customers remotely. Southway’s Advice Services Team is now using the same system, working with Charis Grants, to supply fuel and cash vouchers to Southway tenants in hardship who have no income. The system is working very well, providing emergency help speedily to many vulnerable tenants.

The Active Appetites project from Trafford Housing Trust is an on-going programme supporting families with food and activities during the school holidays. Launched in 2019, it provides much-needed lunches, hot meals, food hampers and vouchers throughout the year, and has so far awarded grants in excess of £220,000 to local community groups across nearly 50 different projects.

Larry Gold, CEO of Trafford Housing Trust, said: “This pandemic has resulted in an incredibly challenging 18 months for all of us, and particularly for those families struggling with children that have been regularly in and out of school. With the new term under way it’s vital that we continue to help families to access food and by providing grants and teaming up with great schools and organisations we hope to make this school year a little easier.”

The full GMHP newsletter is available here

 

i3oz9sGMHP Newsletter
read more

End of the eviction ban

No comments

Private sector tenants and evictions: The end of the temporary eviction ban

By Tom Togher, Chief Officer, Salford Citizens Advice Bureau

First the advice!

The special rules protecting private sector tenants – most of whom are Assured Shorthold tenants, during the Covid pandemic, ended at the beginning of this month. Over the last months the courts have not been granting permission for bailiffs to make evictions. This is changing:

• A section 21 notice must give at least 6 months’ notice at the moment.

• From 1 June, a section 21 notice must give at least 4 months’ notice.

• A landlord can only apply to court after the notice period ends.

• Bailiffs can carry out section 21 evictions from 1 June. Tenants will get at least 2 weeks’ notice of eviction from the bailiffs.

There is a backlog of cases and the eviction process takes time. A section 21 notice starts the legal process to end an assured shorthold tenancy. Most private renters have this type of tenancy. If the landlord tries to evict a tenant without going to court first, it could be an illegal eviction. Seek advice! (Where people live with a landlord then they are probably a lodger, and this does not apply.) The section 21 notice must be on Form 6A.

The landlord doesn’t need to give a reason for wanting a tenant to leave. But they must follow certain rules if they want to give a section 21 notice. For example, protect the tenant’s deposit and give a gas safety certificate. Notice periods have been temporarily extended because of coronavirus. Section 21 notices received before 26 March 2020 are no longer valid unless the landlord started court action within 4 months of the date on the notice.

Court Action: A landlord can apply for a possession order if the tenant stays past the date on the notice. They could also apply to restart a case that has been put on hold during coronavirus. The tenant will get a ‘reactivation notice’ if this happens. There may not be a hearing if the landlord uses the ‘accelerated procedure’ so it’s important to return the defence form. A judge decides if a hearing is needed by looking at the information, they have from both the tenant and the landlord. The court can only stop an eviction if there’s a problem with the section 21 notice.

If you need advice about a threatened eviction, and live in Salford, then call us on 0808 27 87 802. Our specialist private sector housing adviser will be able to check whether the notice has been drafted properly, or to give advice about an illegal eviction. We can also give you advice about what your rights are if you are evicted. For help in other parts of Greater Manchester check out our website or call or text the Citizens Advice Greater Manchester Out of Hours Service on 0161 850 5053.

Now the campaigning:

We at Citizens Advice have been campaigning for the abolition on ‘no fault evictions’ (Section 21 evictions) for many years. The system of Section 21 evictions mean that private tenants have virtually no security of tenure. When the government held a consultation on reform of this system in 2019, we at Citizens Advice Salford called for indefinite security of tenure to be created, as is the case in other countries. We believe this to be a major reform to a highly dysfunctional private sector housing market. Section 21 evictions are one of the highest reasons for people becoming homeless, and we believe it to be a major contributor to housing poverty over the longer term. You can see what we said in this consultation on our website.

There is a glimmer of hope contained in the Queen’s Speech at the beginning of May, when the government announced a plan to ‘help more people to own their own home whilst enhancing the rights of those who rent’. The Citizens Advice movement has joined the Renters Reform Coalition, where you can find out more about what you can do to support private sector renting reform and keep up to date with the campaign for change.

 

i3oz9sEnd of the eviction ban
read more

Tackling evictions

No comments

The Bond Board is taking on a pending tsunami of evictions

By Thomas Ingham, Housing Adviser, The Bond Board Ltd

It’s common knowledge that Covid-19 has had a severe effect on the Private Rented Sector for both landlords and tenants. It has been estimated that over 174,000 tenancies have been threatened with eviction with 227,000 tenants in the UK admitting they are in rent arrears. Greater Manchester Combined Authority Leaders say they fear “homelessness could return to the streets of Greater Manchester on a scale not seen since the 1930s” if rapid and decisive action is not taken to avert a crisis. The legislation seems to be changing so regularly it is hard to keep up and as a result both landlords and tenants are struggling to understand what their rights are.

Tenants are also finding themselves more frequently in a position of financial insecurity which is often not only putting their tenancy at risk but potentially affecting the landlord’s finances too. Though the government has put large notice periods in place for most evictions, this does not solve the problem and only delays it. At some point there is potential for a large wave of private rented evictions to take place. We, at The Bond Board, have recognised this growing issue and we believe that tackling these issues sooner rather than later can prevent potential evictions.

With funding from The National Lottery and the Greater Manchester Mayoral Fund we have successfully put together a specialist housing advice service to tackle these issues within Oldham, Wigan, Rochdale and Bolton. We are offering 1 to 1 support with any private rented tenant living within these areas that are at risk of losing their tenancy and are on a low income. We will offer support with a variety of issues ranging from advice on legal possession notices and what their rights are, rent arrears, complex issues regarding illegal evictions and many more. We have partnered with the National Housing Advice Service and Shelter to assist us with any cases that demand additional specialist support to ensure that all our clients have the best chance of getting back on track.

For instance, in a recent case we offered support to we found that the Section 21 notice the tenant received was produced on the wrong document and therefore would have not been legal. This caused stress for the tenant and meant they could not go on a priority banding with their local housing provider. Through landlord and tenant mediation we managed to discuss the reasons for the eviction and we have helped manage the tenancy to a point where the eviction is no longer necessary. The landlord has been given advice on Section 21’s so that in the future both landlord and tenants have a clearer understanding. We hope we can ensure that we exhaust all options before any eviction and we can prevent a potential tsunami in evictions in the upcoming 12 months.

However, we also understand that a significant number of landlords have also been affected by Covid-19 and may be struggling with income or ever changing legislation. Thanks to funding from The Nationwide Foundation and their Fair Housing Futures project, we are offering support, advice and training to landlords who may need advice around their rights, information around Universal Credit, updates on changes to housing legislation and eviction proceedings. This is a valuable free service that can offer long term 1 to 1 support that is rarely available and continues The Bond Board’s objectives of a Private Rented Sector that works for all.

Thomas Ingham Bond Board for GM |Poverty Axction

Thomas Ingham

If you would like to refer to either of our services then please email and request a referral form. If you would like to spread the word to your colleagues or clients then please get in touch on the same email and we can send over both referral forms and leaflets for you to share, as well as answering any burning questions.

 

i3oz9sTackling evictions
read more

LockdownLIVEs

No comments

LockdownLIVEs: Co-Production and Creative Advocacy during Covid-19

By Katy Rubin, LockdownLIVEs

When the pandemic hit, the first priority for the Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network and the GMCA was to ensure that GM residents in hostels or rough sleeping would be able to self-isolate and stay safe. The next priority has been to direct food, health care and other essential services to these emergency accommodations. While this urgent work has been underway, the needs for creative expression, co-produced research, and a sense of connection were also increasingly pressing.

In mid-April, the LockdownLIVEs project was born, in collaboration with the GMHAN and Street Support Network. LockdownLIVEs is a docu-series co-created by GM residents in emergency and temporary accommodation during the pandemic. The project aims to creatively connect people who are self-isolating in emergency accommodation; and help the broader public understand how this crisis affects those who don’t have their own homes. All GM residents experiencing homelessness are invited to submit 1-minute videos, poems, drawings, and photos about what life is like right now. The submissions are edited into twice-weekly, themed episodes that air on social media (@StreetSupportUK and @LockdownLIVES) on Tuesdays and Fridays at 3pm. LockdownLIVEs aims to offer an opportunity for viewing and discussion online, to help build community over the weeks and months that the lockdown continues.

LockdownLIVEs video screen grab for GM Poverty Action

In the first three weeks, five episodes have been released addressing the challenges of communicating with GPs and support workers over the phone, and the resulting feelings of isolation and anxiety; the experience of food insecurity, and not having choice about your own diet; the frustration when those around aren’t observing social distancing; and the added anxiety when the government is unclear about their response. There have also been examples of collaboration, beauty and hope: residents in hotels bringing music back to the lockdown; working together (with masks and gloves) to build planters for flowers; and sharing humorous poems about what to watch (or not watch) on TV.

Project coordinators have heard from staff at front-line organisations that watching these videos at the end of a workday has been both emotional and encouraging; overall, the project has been received with enthusiasm from staff and residents. Some residents don’t have access to devices or data to send content, so staff are helping to coordinate the submissions; additionally, the Mayor’s Charity and other groups are endeavouring to distribute more devices and data, as internet access is crucial in the current moment.

The LockdownLIVEs team is working with other groups conducting research, so that co-produced reporting and artistic expression can support more formal evaluation efforts.  A final video product will tie various themes together, to be used as an advocacy tool. Upcoming episodes will dive deeper into the experience and help shed light on what’s working in the GM response to covid-19; what’s not working; and what GM residents experiencing homelessness hope will happen next.

Katy Rubin, LockdownLIVEs article for GM Poverty Action

Katy Rubin

Currently, the team, consisting of Jez Green of Mustard Tree, Katy Rubin, an arts-and-policy strategist, and Alex Bower, video editor, are working to spread the word to include a diversity of voices in the project. Any organisation supporting emergency or temporary accommodation is very welcome to participate: new prompts go out on Tuesdays and Fridays, and staff or residents can send any content – videos, images, poems – via WhatsApp or text message to Katy at 07926 358983, or email. Watch and share past videos via Vimeo.com/lockdownlives, and reach out with any other inquiries or suggestions.

 

i3oz9sLockdownLIVEs
read more

Passport to Housing

No comments

Passport to Housing

By Clare Maskrey

Over the last fifteen months Bolton’s Money Skills Service and Furniture 4U (part of Bolton Council) have been delivering a programme of ‘pre-tenancy’ sessions to residents in supported and temporary accommodation to teach them about sustaining a future tenancy.

The aims of the project are to provide residents with the essential tools, skills and knowledge to maintain their tenancies and to educate them on their tenancy rights and responsibilities and make sure they are ‘tenancy ready’ before they move into their own homes.

The Passport to Housing is delivered direct to residents via 1-2-1 sessions over several weeks with each session lasting around an hour and covering one or two topics such as budgeting and banking, furniture options, a pre-residency check list, energy efficiency, value for money and credit repair and understanding a wage slip.

Feedback from those who have taken part in the programme has been excellent with everyone saying that they felt more confident, particularly around budgeting and energy consumption, with many applying for Warm Home Discount, switching their supplier and buying energy savings bulbs.  Their awareness of the alternatives to high street lending or rent to own schemes has meant that none had bought furniture on payment plans.

One gentleman who attended the session said he had found it very useful and was now fanatical about switching things off at the sockets. He said that he was able to read the meters correctly and the knowledge gained helped him notice when there was a problem. He felt confident raising issues with his supplier.

A staff member at a hostel in Bolton who provide supported housing to young people and their children, promoting independence and enabling them to sustain their own tenancy said: “I met with Money Skills initially to learn more about their service and the Passport to Housing scheme. A Money Skills team member came into the hostel for around 3 months to work with some of our most vulnerable customers.  During that time, they met on a weekly basis, supplementing the support that we offer. Using their expertise and connections they were also able to signpost some of our customers to other relevant services such as ‘Furniture4U’ who also worked closely alongside us.

They understood that some of our customers are dealing with some complex and challenging personal issues and circumstances and they took this into consideration when helping our customers to budget and plan for various different outcomes. They were kind, friendly and approachable and The Passport to Housing idea was welcomed by our customers, one of whom said ‘everyone should make sure they do the Passport to Housing Course because it helps you so much’.  We would always welcome them back!”

 

i3oz9sPassport to Housing
read more