Producing more homes resurrecting empty properties

Kevin Murphy explains why organisations like Cromwood have a vital role to play in tackling the homelessness crisis

Latest figures from London Councils serve to highlight the stark reality of the capital’s homelessness crisis.

They showed there are currently 166,000 Londoners who are homeless and living in temporary accommodation, around half of which are children. That equates to a population the size of Oxford’s and means one in every 23 children in London is homeless.

There are a variety of factors driving homelessness, not least the lack of social and affordable housing and the cost of private rented properties.

Organisations like Cromwood play a small but vital role in alleviating this situation and we’ve developed a model which is proving highly effective in supporting the most vulnerable Londoners – rough sleepers.

In doing so we’re also demonstrating that being a for-profit housing association doesn’t mean compromising your principles and, if anything, it actually enables us to deliver swift social impact thanks to our agility in what is a highly competitive market.

Over the last few years Cromwood has secured grant funding via the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme, run by the Greater London Authority, and combined it with private sector investment to buy up and refurbish hundreds of properties and let them to former rough sleepers.

We like to think of ourselves as a small organisation that punches above our weight. 

One of the key reasons our model is successful is we work in partnership with charities such as Thames Reach that have expertise in supporting clients and ultimately helping them to manage a tenancy. 

Our aim is to provide a platform for people to get back on track and rebuild their lives. The reality is that while having a roof over your head and the security of your own home is a crucial step, it often needs to come with tailored support for that person – whether it’s help with mental health issues or assisting them to find good quality employment.

That’s what working in partnership brings. Our partners like working with Cromwood because we deliver the decent homes their clients need quickly and maintain a close and respectful relationship with both tenants and support workers. From our perspective, we know our customers are receiving the support they need.

It’s a win-win.

Kevin Murphy is strategic director of Cromwood Housing Group