A fund to tackle the problems experienced by vulnerable people forced into the private rented sector by a lack of social homes has been launched in Greater Manchester.
The £600,000 pot of grant funding is being offered under the banner of Fair Housing Futures, which has been set up to address the challenges tenants with limited financial and social support face when it comes to accessing and living in the city region’s private rented sector.
The overall £1.2 million project is being funded by the Nationwide Foundation and hosted by the housing charity Shelter.
It is calling for local organisations such as tenants’ groups, housing associations, and organisations covering planning, development and even health and well-being, to apply to have their ideas backed with cash from the grant fund.
“We know from our Shelter frontline services that the lack of social housing in Manchester is pushing more people into unstable private rentals,” said Roli Barker, Shelter’s project manager for Fair Housing Futures.
“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.
Shelter says this research will help the project’s partnership board to distribute the £600,000 of grant funding to organisations in Greater Manchester over the next three years, as they work to test and develop successful applications.
“With social and council housing becoming increasingly oversubscribed, more people are often being forced into the private rented sector,” said Paul Dennett, Salford’s city mayor. He is also the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s lead for housing, homelessness and infrastructure, and sits on the Fair Housing Futures board.
“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.”
Leigh Pearce, the Nationwide Foundation’s chief executive, 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.”
Organisations applying for funding must either be based in Greater Manchester or have a partner applicant who is based there.