The Charity, Elmbridge Rentstart, has taken over a prestigious high street building in the stock-broker town of Walton-on-Thames in Surrey and converted the premises into the first high street letting agency in the United Kingdom.
Previously occupied by a bank and then an estate agency, the building in a prime affluent location, has been transformed by the charity into upmarket offices offering a positive greeting and encouragement for homeless people in the town facing an increasing challenge in this area of local life.
The concept behind the scheme to change attitudes as to how the homeless are treated revamping the empty shop into pleasant offices and a place where their homeless clients and landlords can meet. They are offering advice and setting up meetings with potential employers in pleasant surrounding where people feel comfortable and safe. In addition, the homeless are provided with help and support to pay back loans and training with job applications.
The charity currently supports and houses over 150 homeless per year, some of whom have mental issues, additions and have been living rough for some time. And the charity’s track record is to be admired with around 82 per cent housed during the last year still in accommodation. Just as credible, around one-third are in work have been able to save money due to being given the confidence in using financial skills and budgeting.
Elmbridge Rentstart rents from private landlords and then sublets homes with a loan deposit and rent to the homeless people in their care and as a result of progress made, the charity has aspirations that the centre could become a model which could be rolled out across the UK.