Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

April – May 2024 : Compassion READ ONLINE


£40k boost to help private rental tenants

May 12 2011
Existing social and council housing is not keeping up with demand, says charity

The Department of Communities and Local Government has awarded SIFA Fireside a grant of £40,000 as part of their Crisis Private Rented Access Development Programme. The aim of the programme is to enable single, homeless people to find - and, most importantly, sustain - good-quality accommodation in the private sector.

SIFA Fireside is the only organisation in Birmingham to have received this funding, with 48 others benefiting across England. The project, entitled ‘Engage and Sustain’, will concentrate on long-term service users who have a substantial experience of homelessness or are in danger of returning to it, with higher support needs, including substance misuse. SIFA Fireside has been given the opportunity to expand their resettlement services to include private landlords, which will give more choice to those accessing their other services, which include accommodation advice.

For the project to successfully respond to the needs of the cohort, it will have to provide both intensive and flexible support, as well as understand the need for partnership working to support tenancies once they have been created. As Lee Harris, Resettlement Co-Ordinator at SIFA, explained, the existing social and council housing is simply not keeping up with demand. Even hostels for rough sleepers that have survived in the face of Supporting People funding decisions have only been able to continue their service due to their reliance on floating support.

Harris said: “It seems that the private rented sector is going to be the way forward, despite possible pitfalls. Housing Benefit cuts, on top of persuading reticent landlords to accept our client group will be nothing short of a challenge.” SIFA Fireside hope to make these challenges more attractive to the private sector by offering support to minimise the risk of failed tenancies. Using the private sector is not without imperfections, but in this current climate it is one of the few alternative options, and one in which SIFA Fireside is prepared to invest to continue to support those who are in need of their services.

‘Engage and Sustain’ is supported by Crisis Skylight, Birmingham; Anawim, in Handsworth; St Anne’s Hostel; and Birmingham City Council.