Learning About Housing Policy Abroad

Director of Policy for Urban Pathways Nicole Bramstedt  

Director of Policy for Urban Pathways Nicole Bramstedt  

Nicole Bramstedt, Director of Policy at Urban Pathways took part in a unique exchange program this past April.

 The Transatlantic Practice Exchange is an opportunity for homeless staff in the U.K. and the U.S. to trade places in an effort to explore a practice and share it upon their return; this year Nicole was lucky enough to be chosen.

              Crisis UK, a homeless services organization. 

              Crisis UK, a homeless services organization. 

 Nicole spent 3 weeks working with Crisis, a 50-year old homeless organization with offices and services in England, Scotland, and Wales. Nicole’s goal was to learn what strategies Crisis uses to engage the private rental sector (PRS) to address homelessness.

 Crisis provides education, employment, housing and well-being services. Since 1997, Crisis has worked to make the (PRS) a viable housing option for the homeless. This is done by engaging the landlords, and understanding their concerns. Once the landlords concerns are heard, Crisis develops strategies to combat these issues starting pre, and during tenancy that benefit both the homeless and the landlord.

 The Tenancy Support Program begins with a housing induction to familiarize potential members with housing services. Crisis then explains the realities of the tight U.K. rental market, and the need to adjust housing expectations. Potential members then attend a Mini Renting Ready workshop that provides information on how to search for housing, the type of housing to search for, and the rent one can afford. After the workshop, members work with a housing coach and attend a “property searching club”.

 Tenancy support also aids members during tenancyby providing accredited Renting Readycourses including: housing rights, money management, and communications (tenant to tenant— tenant to landlord).

 This program enhances exit options, tenancy sustainment, and facilitates the transition to housing. According to staff at Crisis, landlords prefer tenancy support and have been more inclined to offer tenancy to individuals who have shown commitment to the program; sometimes even at lower rents.

 Landlords also prefer the consistent support by reputable providers that the tenancy program provides. Crisis engages landlords in advocacy; keeping them up to date on policy recommendations so that they are implemented, and homeless issues can be resolved.

 After her 3 week placement abroad, Nicole arrived back at Urban Pathways with the following feedback:

In the U.S. I think we need to think outside the box about addressing homelessness, all sectors should make efforts to work together. Crisis’ practices of tenancy training and engaging landlords in both housing and advocacy address the lack of information among the landlords, and the homeless.

My recommendations to improve sustaining tenancy and exit options are providing tenancy training in Shelters, Drop-In Centers, and Safe Havens. Utilizing matching programs for homeless individuals placed in shared permanent housing. Develop a housing pilot program for adults exiting transitional housing, and needing tenancy support. Finally engage landlords in homeless advocacy. “

These initiatives will aid in bridging the gap between the stakeholders, providers and the homeless.

We thank Nicole for taking part in the Transatlantic Practice Exchange and working with Crisis.

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 2,000 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org