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Case Study

Ensuring long term housing solutions for homeless men is often a complex and neglected area of social care.  Assetz Exchange partnered with GROW Hostel to purchase a 5 bedroomed terraced property in Watford to create a home for five people who have experienced problems with homelessness.

In this case study David Campbell of Grow Hostel provides insight into their approach and why investor support is so critical to the individuals they help.

Providing supported housing for homeless men with GROW Hostel

GROW Hostel (Group for the Rootless of Watford) is a registered charity providing short to medium term hostel accommodation for men in Watford with complex needs. It provides 24-hr support, in-house therapists, self-help strategies, supportive group work, signposting to external services, advice on education and training and follow-on support and resettlement.

Kitchen in GROW Hostel, Brixton Road

Why were you interested in securing housing backed by Assetz Exchange investors?

DC: “As a small not for profit organisation, we don’t have the funds to purchase accommodation required to meet the demand for housing, and it’s very difficult for us to get a mortgage. 

When I was made aware of Assetz Exchange, it seemed like the ideal match.  We now have longer term security, on 10 year leases, and investors are provided with a longer term source of income.  I felt we were able to find common ground working with both Peter and James at Assetz Exchange.”

How did GROW Watford start and what are your aims?

DC: “The charity started about 40 years ago with a group of local churches, probation officers and social workers, acting in a voluntary capacity. They had all seen men sleeping rough and dying on the streets and knew that they needed a longer term, tailored solution to help this group.

The average age for a homeless man to die in this country is 46, in comparison to the national average for men which is 80. The current support and service provision for men is limited, and their needs are complex. For example, they are more likely to suffer from depression, isolation and suicide. Our approach is to provide longer term holistic support, as opposed to short term hostel solutions.

The individuals that GROW works with have often been homeless for lengthy periods of time and suffer from a wide range of complex health and social issues. They often struggle to stay in supported accommodation unless support is provided over a longer period.”

Can you describe how you help men get off the street and settle into longer term housing?

DC: ”90% of our cases are self-referrals (we also receive referrals from statutory services). GROW works with men between the ages of 25-65yrs old, some of whom present in a state of chaos with ongoing support needs and in desperate need of accommodation.

After assessing the service user’s needs, a holistic plan is agreed to support them throughout their time at GROW. This is based on their aspirations which is reviewed regularly through the one-to-one meetings with their keyworker.

GROW also receives charitable donations from different faith groups and from the local and neighbouring communities which is gratefully received and a valuable resource for GROW service users. In addition, the financial donations received provide further resident activities such as education and festive fun at Christmas.

GROW provides supported accommodation for individuals who have a history of homelessness. The support is tailored, holistic and offers stability for them to progress into independent accommodation. GROW has a 90%+ success rate for resettled individuals maintaining their independent accommodation with ongoing support.

I’d also say our staff are our biggest asset. Our approach needs 24/7 support, experience and expertise. The individuals we care for need to sign a support document and this is reviewed with them at least every fortnight. Our staff are very proactive and as a result our eviction rates are extremely low, but we must work hard at it. I feel we have proved that the impossible is possible though, it just takes more time and support than mainstream supported accommodation currently provides.”

What’s your capacity and how does the Assetz Exchange funded Brixton Road fit into this?

DC: “GROW was forced to reduce its bed spaces to 17 during the pandemic. By funding the purchase of a 5 bedroomed house and leasing it back to the charity, Assetz Exchange investors have enabled GROW to resume its capacity back up to 22. This has made an immediate difference to homeless men in the area.”

What does the future hold for GROW Hostel?

DC: “I’d ideally like to increase GROW’s portfolio by adding a variety of properties to accommodate more of the homeless community.

With the current cost of living crisis, male homelessness is only going to get worse. The starting point is often people losing jobs, relationships breaking down and deteriorating mental health. Men tend to have less obvious support options to turn to and often don’t admit problems before it’s too late. We’re keen to look to Assetz Exchange investors to help fund new properties sooner rather than later.”

We currently work with charities and other leading supported housing providers to source, lease and fund social housing. We’d love to talk to any organisation that has a need to raise capital for a property purchase in this sector.  Contact us at info@assetzexchange.co.uk  Tel: +44 (0) 3330 119830

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