Housing project reaches one-year milestone

A scheme that enables Wolverhampton youngsters leaving care to refurbish properties they can then live in has reached its one-year milestone.

The House Project, a partnership between the council, Wolverhampton Homes, the National House Project and commercial partner Reconomy, was launched in October last year with 10 people signing up to take part.

Despite the process being delayed by Covid-19, workers behind the scheme have highlighted a number of successes and say those taking part – who are all aged 16 and over – have made tremendous headway.

In a report to council cabinet members, the House Project’s supported accommodation manager Julia Tompson said: “Despite the challenges faced with Covid- 19, the young people have progressed extremely well.

“Staff have worked tirelessly to continue to develop a sense of community by holding virtual meetings, and meeting with young people face-to-face to support them to develop the skills they need to progress.

“We have five young people who have now moved into their homes, two waiting for their keys, and another who is actively sourcing a property in the area of her choice.

“We have recognised that two of our young people are not ready to transfer to complete independence, and still need support to develop their skills and ability to keep safe, so they will be progressed at their own pace,” she added.

“A virtual event was held in September inviting young people to be part of the second cohort of the project, and there are already seven young people interested.”

Once youngsters have refurbished their properties with help from local building companies, they can move in on an introductory tenancy with a view to having a long-term tenancy within 6-12 months.

Having proved themselves as tenants, they can then ‘graduate’ from the project to become ‘managing tenants’, but can continue to live in the homes for as long as they wish.

When the project launched last year, Councillor John Reynolds, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said the scheme could save the council around £500,000 a year.

Originally pioneered in Stoke-on-Trent in 2017, The House Project focuses on maximising young people’s independence and ability to develop their own long-term support networks.

The report will be discussed by the council’s cabinet next Wednesday.

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