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Mike's blog - New challenge brought issues home to me

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

Being part of the Housing First Pilot can sometimes (often) be a whirlwind of activities and a never ending to do list, so when I was asked to do a blog looking back over the first nine months of the pilot, I was shocked when I sat down to review my experiences, write Project Manager Mike Hughes.

So much was new to me; I moved out of IT, learned lots (and lots) of housing-associated rules and processes, worked with a new team to define the pilot and who we are as a central team.

One of the really BIG tasks for the last year has been sourcing accommodation in the midst of the well-publicised housing crisis.

We launched the pilot in April with pledge list from Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) to give accommodation to the pilot. But these are only promises and can only become offers if there is an empty property.

This means that with historically low turnover rates particularly in the one-bedroom properties we mostly need, some RPs they have struggled to turn their pledges into offers.

So the central team has had to work hard chasing down every possible void, speaking to all the RPs who work in the GM area, big or small, GMHP members or not. And this hard work has borne fruit.

We have increased our pledges from 155 to 188 and the central team and our delivery partners have been out spreading the good word about GMHF and encouraging engagement with 31 RPs across the GM area. Sometimes we have sounded like stuck records I’m sure.

We have also been working with The Bond Board and the GM ethical letting agency (Let Us) to open up the Private Rental Sector (PRS) market, despite affordability issues in some areas this will deliver more choice for people on the program.

We held a big event in Manchester last week with these organisations and the GMCA which was attended by 75+ PRS landlord and agents with the aim of getting the PRS involved as one of the solutions to the housing crisis in Greater Manchester.

All this hard work is paying off, more property offers are coming in now and some of the RPs have really gone the extra mile - especially ForHousing, Great Places, Jigsaw, Wigan and Leigh homes and One Manchester.

There are still more offers needed and we now have more people on the pilot than we do fully fledged offers.

So what does the future hold? Well, redoubling our efforts to get more organisations/landlords - both social and PRS - to deliver accommodation to the pilot, working really closely with all of the stakeholders across GM to unlock the problem and finding creative solutions.

Looking back, we have come a long way; 26 RPs have rehoused people on the pilot and we have 70 people in permanent accommodation to date. Not bad for nine months in, but there is still so much to do - bring on the whirlwind of year two!

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