Housing Crisis

People with mental health difficulties struggling to find suitable homes in rental sector

One housing association is calling for investment in one-bedroom apartments, with some ring-fenced for people with mental health difficulties.

A HOUSING ASSOCIATION for people with mental health difficulties has said the shortage of one-bedroom properties in the rental market has left vulnerable people without accommodation that is suitable for them to meet the challenges they face.

Last year, Hail, which provides housing and support services, assisted 586 people and increased its own housing stock to 423, according to the association’s annual report which will be launched later today.

CEO of Hail Martina Smith said the issues of affordability and lack of supply in the wider rental market are “undoubtedly creating challenges for those with mental health difficulties, as people are struggling to find secure and affordable rental accommodation”.

The charity provides accommodation for and works with clients to help them address issues that may affect their tenancies and supports them in sustaining those tenancies.

This includes support on household budgeting, paying bills on time, maintaining links with family and friends, as well as the provision of activities to help combat isolation, the development of recovery plans and assistance pursuing employment and education opportunities.

Hail’s tenants have a high rate of tenancy sustainment at 99%.

Smith said a key area of concern is the lack of one-bedroom properties in the rental and to-buy markets as the demand for the people supported by Hail tends to be this type of accommodation.

“The nationwide shortage of one-bedroom apartments means that people with mental health difficulties are not being provided with suitable accommodation to help them with their recovery and live independently,” she said.

“In addition, it is important for our tenants and clients to have security of tenure in good quality accommodation with rents they can afford to pay.”

Hail is calling on the government to provide funding in the upcoming Budget to increase the supply of one-bedroom apartments and ensure that a percentage of these are set aside in all developments for those with mental health difficulties.

Although the association managed to increase its housing stock in 2021, with 19 new homes and a further 11 that were contracted, Smith said it was difficult to secure additional properties due to rising housing prices and lack of sufficient supply.

“We are actively seeking partnership opportunities with local authorities, larger AHBs and the construction sector to deliver our ambitious growth programme of increasing our housing stock by 17% by the end of 2023, by delivering a further 70 homes,” she said.

“However, our ability to deliver upon our growth programme relies heavily on market conditions. Therefore, an improvement in supply and affordability would make it less challenging for us to purchase additional properties for our clients.”

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