William sees homelessness help for young workers – BBC News

  • By Sean Coughlan
  • Royal correspondent

Image source, Victoria Jones

Image caption,

Prince William visited the new housing units, where rents are set at a third of tenants’ pay

The Prince of Wales has opened a homelessness-charity project for young people in work or apprenticeships who need help finding affordable housing.

Centrepoint says the project – bringing 33 new housing units to Peckham, south London – is a response to the “housing crisis”.

The mini-flats are constructed in Hull and transported to London by lorry.

Residents will pay different amounts based on income, with the rent capped at a third of each tenant’s pay.

And solar panels will cut heating bills to £200 per year.

Without stable accommodation, it could be impossible for young people to keep their jobs or to stay in training, the homelessness charity says.

The project provides independent living, Centrepoint’s Sally Orlopp says, giving young people their own front door and a “stepping stone” for those struggling to rent or buy and who might have been stuck in temporary accommodation.

It also helps those facing other barriers, such as landlords wanting a previous track record of paying rent.

Image caption,

The modules, built in Hull, were driven down to south London

“It’s not just in London, it’s getting more and more difficult for young people,” she says. And even so-called “affordable” property is often too expensive for many, with the charity estimating there are 129,000 homeless young people across the UK.

Prince William, patron of Centrepoint, met some of those moving into the low-cost housing units, called Reuben House, on his visit to Peckham.

Image source, Jonathan Brady

Image caption,

Food banks say one in five using their services is now in a working family

They have to be working more than 30 hours per week and earning no more than £32,000 a year.

The first residents have jobs in construction, information technology (IT), social services and hairdressing, Ms Orlopp says.

“This is a real mix of young people,” she says, with the project challenging stereotypes about who might be at risk of becoming homeless.

Image source, Victoria Jones

Image caption,

Prince William met some of the first residents of the housing project

The project highlights the issue of work not necessarily protecting people from poverty – with the Trussell Trust charity reporting that about one out of every five people using their food banks is from a working household.

“There are many negative stereotypes associated with homelessness that are at odds with the evidence,” Centre for Homelessness Impact chief executive Dr Ligia Teixeira says.

The research group says almost a quarter of households at risk of homelessness who ask local authorities for help include someone working.

Ms Teixeira welcomes Prince William’s visit as a way of shifting attitudes on homelessness.

He could use “compassion, empathy and evidence to challenge stereotypes and prejudices and fundamentally change how homelessness is perceived, in the same way that his late mother, Diana, helped to shed the stigma associated with HIV [Human Immunodeficiency Virus] and Aids in the 1980s”, she says.

The prince has made homelessness one of his biggest causes, also working with charities such as the Passage and the Big Issue magazine.

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