January 24, 2019

Brian Robson, from Homes England + one of our emerging leaders on responding to their self-selected challenge.

Brian Robson

The ‘H’ of the Centre for Homelessness Impact’s SHARE framework stands for ‘a housing system that leaves no-one behind’. Our team was keen to explore ways we can make that a reality.

Clearly, that’s a huge area and there are thousands of people trying across the country devoting their time to redesigning our housing system. So where could we best add value?

We decided to look at how the existing stock of housing is allocated. Our initial interviews were with people at both ends of the housing need spectrum. We spoke to people experiencing homelessness with additional complex needs; and to those whose circumstances meant that they would be able to make ends meet, were it not for high housing costs. 

The results were revealing. Despite being at opposite ends of the need spectrum, there were lots of commonalities between the two groups. Both told us they felt current systems made assumptions about their needs, and didn’t always take into account the things that were most important to them – whether that was the need to accommodate a pet to whom they had a very strong emotional bond; or a connection to a local support network of friends and family.

When we spoke to professionals, they explained that the ‘choice based lettings’ systems they use were intended to enable housing applicants to make informed choices and meet these ‘soft needs’. But these systems often don’t apply to those in greatest need, and even those who do use them find that limited supply means limited choice.

We wanted to help people navigate these complex systems and level the playing field so that applicants could make informed choices about what matters to them. That’s why we’re designing a ‘navigator’ that helps people understand how long they’re likely to wait for housing; how changing some of their requirements would affect their wait time, and what other choices are open to them. We’re hoping the data generated by the navigator might be useful to councils and housing providers when they’re making decisions about future housing provision.

Watch this space!

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