British entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor, Javad Marandi is backing a new initiative by a leading homelessness charity to tackle the underlying causes of youth homelessness.

Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme will see the charity combining rent-capped accommodation with secure employment for disadvantaged young people in a scheme that it’s hoped will provide a blueprint for the future.

An enduring problem

Homelessness in the UK has been an enduring problem for decades.

While various initiatives by governments of different stripes have helped to alleviate the situation, realistic long-term solutions have been short on the ground. During times of crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic, rough sleepers could be given emergency accommodation quickly. However, developing scalable solutions that tackle the broader problem is more challenging.

Rough sleepers, particularly in urban areas, are the public face of homelessness in the UK. However, there is a broader issue. Large numbers of people live in insecure, substandard accommodation, often sofa-surfing, and who are at serious risk of ending up on the street. Young people are especially vulnerable, with data from Centrepoint showing that approximately 121,000 young people asked for help with homelessness during 2020/21.

The Centrepoint solution

The Centrepoint Independent Living Programme looks to create a lasting, scalable solution for disadvantaged young people aged 16-25.

Co-chaired by Javad Marandi, the programme is building 300 rent-capped homes in London and Manchester. These will be made available to young people at risk of homelessness. To secure a tenancy, young people will need to have employment through the Centrepoint Work Scheme.

This scheme gives young people support with skills training, further education and interview skills, helping them prepare for the world of work. They are then able to apply for a job with an employer who has signed up for the Centrepoint Work Scheme. Once employment has been secured, they are then able to apply for accommodation through the Independent Living Programme.

The rent for accommodation is capped at a third of the young person’s salary. In practice, this would mean that a young person earning an average starting salary for someone of their age of around £18,000 would pay no more than £500 a month. This is considerably lower than the average rent for new tenants in both London and Manchester.

The young person then has stable accommodation and is able to build an independent life. For employers, it provides a pool of settled, motivated and supported young talent who are eager to achieve.

A solution that can grow

Javad Marandi has ambitious plans for the scheme to grow and develop over time.

His aim is to “have a nationwide scheme which not only makes economic sense but which has a proper impact on society”. He believes that as the project develops it will take on a momentum of its own.

“At the moment, the biggest hurdle to the growth of Centrepoint Independent Living is the novelty of the programme,” says Marandi. “It’s never been done before and, as with anything revolutionary, you have to prove the concept to all interested parties: potential investors, national and local government, and employers looking to sign up for the scheme. There is a chance for all to benefit and to be part of something truly extraordinary.”

While 300 homes is a modest start and its geographical reach is limited, the aim over time is to grow that number to 30,000.

These will cover the whole of the country, in rural as well as urban areas. To achieve this vision, the programme needs investors and potential employers to get involved. Each home built by the scheme costs up £70,000 but if more companies support the programme, the price per unit falls and the economic viability of the scheme increases.

While this may sound ambitious, both Centrepoint and Marandi himself have a track record of delivery. As well as a background as a highly successful entrepreneur and investor, Marandi has been involved in a number of social and philanthropic ventures.

In 2017, he founded The Marandi Foundation, with his wife Narmina, which is dedicated to providing disadvantaged young people and communities in the UK with access to training and educational opportunities, as well as mental health and well-being support services.

A time for bold solutions

Finding long-term solutions for such complex problems is challenging, but the Centrepoint Independent Living Programme provides a blueprint for a more sustainable approach that could be transformative.

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