Threshold’s Access Housing Unit will be launched by George Hook, radio personality and rugby pundit, at 11.00am in The Digital Depot, Roe Lane (off Thomas Street), The Digital Hub, Dublin 8.
Threshold the national housing organisation is today launching the Access Housing Unit (AHU), a new service to help homeless people, particularly single people, to access accommodation in the private rented sector.
The majority of homeless people – four out of every five – are single people who face the greatest obstacles in accessing housing. Single men find it particularly difficult to get local authority housing, which means that the only option for most is private rented accommodation. But single people often don’t have the resources or the confidence to find their own flat.
The AHU works by taking referrals of potential tenants from other homeless service providers, including Focus Ireland, Dublin Simon Community and Merchant’s Quay Ireland. The Unit is operated by Threshold and funded by the Homeless Agency.
Last year, the AHU helped 127 people to move out of homelessness (including 57 single people and 40 children). Only five tenancies were unsuccessful in 2004. This represents an unprecedented success for a project of this type and creates a solid foundation for 2005.
Russell Chapman, Manager of the Access Housing Unit, said:
“The people who are referred to the Access Housing Unit are homeless but could manage in their own place with a little support. Often they find it difficult to find this accommodation in the first place. That’s where we can help by matching suitable landlords with suitable tenants.
The benefit to the landlord is that we interview all potential tenants and only recommend those we feel will cope in their own place. We also ensure that rents and deposits are organised and paid. We are always there if the landlord has a question and we regularly write to landlords to advise them of new changes in the private rented sector.
The reality is that landlords come back to us time and time again. They know we have people waiting and there are no advertising costs involved. Some landlords have housed six or seven homeless people that have come through the Access Housing Unit and are very happy to continue to work with us.”
Not all homeless services that refer people to the Access Housing Unit can provide the kind of support that people need after moving into their own place. The AHU has therefore developed its own ‘tenancy sustainment’ service, which involves visiting people in their own home and helping them to acquire the confidence and skills to maintain their tenancy. Home visits also help the AHU to know if a person is coping. A worker can check if the person knows how all the appliances work, if there is food in the fridge and that bills are not lying around unpaid.
Patrick Burke, Director of Threshold, said:
“The Access Housing Unit creates a win-win situation for everyone. Homeless people get homes, landlords make a living and the Government saves money as it is far cheaper to pay for someone’s private rented accommodation than it is to keep them in homeless services. This service should be replicated in every local authority area in the country.”