Housing charity Shelter has launched a £600,000 fund in Greater Manchester today with a view to finding real-life solutions to the housing problems facing thousands of vulnerable private renters in the city.
Funded by the Nationwide Foundation and hosted by Shelter, the £1.2m Fair Housing Futures project seeks to address the challenges of accessing and living in Greater Manchester’s PRS that are faced by tenants with limited financial and social support.
The scheme is now calling for local organisations such as tenant’s groups, housing associations, and organisations covering planning, development and even health and well-being, to apply to have their ideas backed with cash from a £600,000 grant fund.
Shelter’s Roli Barker, project manager for Fair Housing Futures, said: “We know from our Shelter front-line services that the lack of social housing in Manchester is pushing more people into unstable private rentals.
“This funding from the Nationwide Foundation is an incredible opportunity for us as a city to help ourselves, to create a network of funded local projects that get right to the heart of the issues facing our vulnerable private renters. We want to leave a legacy of practical solutions, that make access to housing not only easier, but fairer.”
The project has already mapped out how sky-high rents and poor conditions across Greater Manchester leave many vulnerable renters struggling to survive in what Shelter describes as a broken private rented system.
Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor and Greater Manchester’s lead for housing, homelessness and infrastructure, and who sits on the Fair Housing Futures board, commented: “With social and council housing becoming increasingly oversubscribed, more people are often being forced into the private rented sector.
“Whilst for most this is a good alternative, a small minority of unscrupulous landlords are exploiting vulnerable tenants and dragging down whole communities through mismanagement and negligence.
“In Greater Manchester we’re working to fix this, to ensure everyone has a decent, secure and safe home. Through our work on the private rented sector we’ll be supporting tenants, recognising good landlords and using all the powers and legislation at our disposal to make sure that unscrupulous landlords are forced out of our communities for good.
“Shelter’s Fair Housing Futures programme and grant funding will help us make sure the private rented sector in Greater Manchester works for all our communities and neighbourhoods – landlords and tenants together.”
Organisations applying for funding must either be based in Greater Manchester or have a partner applicant who is based in Greater Manchester.
Leigh Pearce, chief executive of the Nationwide Foundation, said: “The private rented sector has changed massively in recent years and needs to undergo significant redesign. It’s only right that we should make rented homes places where tenants are treated with respect and can truly feel happy and settled.
“This work will help tenants who are struggling with affordability and trapped in poor quality rented homes. The fund will test solutions to challenges faced by vulnerable, disadvantaged and low-income tenants in the private rented sector in Greater Manchester. Because the fund is not constrained by statutory obligations, it can be used creatively, and we look forward to seeing some innovative and smart ideas come through.
“We’ve chosen this mayoral authority to work in as we see enormous appetite for modernisation of housing policy and practice in Greater Manchester. However, the fears and struggles facing tenants in Greater Manchester are sadly not unique, and we hope that the successes here will eventually trail-blaze vital improvements to the private rented sector right across the UK.”