New house-share scheme tackles homelessness

People at risk of becoming homeless are sharing accommodation under a new pilot scheme launched in Leyland.

Social landlord Progress Housing Group and youth charity Key have joined forces in the town to develop the innovative new house-share scheme.

The OurPlace project offers shared accommodation and ongoing support to people under the age of 35 who are looking for somewhere to live, and may not want to be on their own or can’t afford to.

The scheme aims to give people a better introduction to living independently.

The first group to take part in the OurPlace project are James Timms, 19, Amanda Blakeley, 27, and Zoe-Marie Belshaw, 23, who moved into a shared house in May.

Zoe-Marie was facing homelessness after a family breakdown when she was told about the OurPlace project.

She said: “I needed to find a place to live fast but wasn’t keen at the thought of living on my own.

“The OurPlace project was perfect for me as I didn’t think I could afford living by myself.

“Sharing the house means that the rent is a lot lower as we all pay for our own rooms but split the bills.”

As part of the project, prospective tenants are asked to take part in pre-tenancy training provided by Key, based in Balfour Court, Leyland, which is designed to equip them with the skills to attain and sustain their own tenancy.

The training covers topics on the rights and responsibilities of being a tenant, budgeting, debt, paying bills and healthy cooking on a budget.

Sue Whitham, head of housing support for Progress Housing Group, said: “Temporary accommodation can often be isolating and not always affordable for everyone.

“By offering shared accommodation we are giving people the chance to maintain their independence but at the same time being part of a group that has to take responsibility and make decisions in order to maintain a tenancy.

“We are pleased that James, Amanda and Zoe-Marie who have been allocated to our first house seem to get on so well together, and I look forward to offering this service to more young people in the future”

Ursula Pattern, managing director of Key, added: “It is great to see that the first shared house is up and running. The pre-tenancy training has been a great success”

“The scheme works to match tenants so that many of the negatives of sharing accommodation are discussed and resolved in advance.”