Landlords: can you help house sanctuary seekers in our city?

September 4, 2020

The need for emergency accommodation
ASSIST is currently looking for at least one large property (ideally with 6+ bedrooms) to offer emergency accommodation to sanctuary seekers. This would enable us to offer them safe and secure emergency accommodation for the period of COVID restrictions.

Our former clients often tell us how important it was for them that ASSIST was able to give them a roof over their heads after their support and accommodation from the Home Office was terminated. Before COVID, we ran an all-year emergency night shelter as well as a network of volunteer hosts. This meant that we were able to offer a newly destitute sanctuary seeker a place to stay straight away. The shelter has now been shut since March, as the government has placed a ban on all types of communal accommodation provision. Most of our hosting volunteers are also not currently able to offer emergency accommodation

Although both the Home Office and Sheffield City Council have been providing accommodation to destitute sanctuary seekers during the first stage of the pandemic, indications are that evictions from asylum accommodation may resume before the threat from COVID 19 has been eliminated and before charities such as ours are able to safely run their usual emergency accommodation.

In order to avoid destitution and homlessness among sanctuary seekers, we are therefore making alternative plans to keep people safe and off the street. For this we are seeking the support of owners of suitable properties who would be willing to make them available on a temporary basis.

What are we looking for
We would require a property, ideally with six or more bedrooms within walking distance of Sheffield City centre with at least one bathroom per three residents that would be available for a minimum of 12 months. The property should be in reasonable state of repair and compliant with HMO standards. It should ideally be furnished and equipped, although we would be able to provide some furniture or equipment ourselves.

What we can offer
Primarily we can offer an opportunity to help us make a tangible difference to the lives of some of the most marginalised members of our community.

We are not expecting property owners to donate properties for free and would be in a position to pay some rent, although this would not be in line with market rates. ASSIST is going to cover council tax and rates, where applicable. Depending on the arrangements made with the property owner we can also also take on aspects of the physical maintenance of the property.

Any properties made available to us would be well looked after and cared for.
ASSIST has experience of running housing for sanctuary seekers, so our team of experienced staff supported by dedicated volunteers would ensure a regular ASSIST presence at the property. This would involve advising clients on how to use the property appropriately and maintaining adherence to house rules. The vast majority of our clients are responsible adults; many were professional people in their home countries. In the other properties we run for our clients, instances of anti-social behaviour are extremely rare. As a charity we do not work with clients with known substance or alcohol abuse issues or who have severe mental illness.

To find out more
If you are interested to find out more, please contact us by email accommodate@assistsheffield.org.uk or phone: 0300 2010072 or 07723 724098.