Rentstart (previously known as Elmbridge Rentstart)is a local charity committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness.
The small team of employees, supported by essential volunteers, works with many different agencies, including private sector landlords, to support those people who are already street homeless as well as those who are facing homelessness or are vulnerably housed. Their work is highly flexible and geared to suit the needs of the individual clients many of whom have mental health issues and, sadly, problems with substance abuse. Others are just in the wrong place at the wrong time having experienced life changing incidents such as relationship breakdown, loss of employment and serious illness.
In an area such as ours, with high property prices and rents that reflect this expense, it is all too easy for those living on the margins of society to simply topple over the edge unless there is a bespoke support system available.
Rentstart typically handles about 450 new enquiries each year and, drilling down from this number, they go on to rehome about 150 people each year and prevent a similar number of evictions. Acting as the intermediary in the private housing sector, Rentstart now manage properties which offer about 100 bed spaces providing secure accommodation for clients and secure rental payments for landlords. This success has meant that, with secure and safe housing as well as other support, more than 40 people each year are able to resume their place in gainful employment whilst others are saving for a deposit on their own rental properties using the charity’s matching funds programme.
Sadly, during the course of a typical year, support will be needed for circa 50 rough sleepers and so the problem is only being contained and is not going away.
The relationship between Rentstart and St. James’ is relatively young having started in 2017 but our parish family has taken the charity into its hearts and minds, providing support in very many ways and culminating in the annual carol concert which has gone from strength to strength over its first three years.
We look forward to working with them going forward as they progress further from their new multipurpose premises on Walton High Street.