HOMESin is a social and supported housing combination of TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Compare the Market & Zoopla. Zoopla has the strap line ‘everything under one roof’ and that’s true of HOMESin too, whether you’re a local authority, NHS or Partnership Board commissioner, a social or private landlord, care and support provider or someone looking for somewhere to live.
HOMESin is an online portal that shows what supported and social housing is available by geographical area. It also provides qualitative and quantitative data about the cost and standard of the housing, the landlord, the provider of care and support, if there is one, and the experience of people who have lived there and their families.
A commissioner looking to house someone with additional needs can login to HOMESin and see what’s available to suit their needs. They can view data about cost, the accommodation itself, who the landlord is, who the support and care provider is and what services they provide, how it compares to other supported and social housing locally.
It’s free to use. Commissioners pay nothing at all. They just login to the HOMESin web portal. Social landlords and care and support providers can list and manage their vacancies and services free of charge. It’s a qualitative, quantitative and pictorial description of a social or supported housing vacancy that gives additional information about the services provided and any other data of interest to a commissioner or someone who needs appropriate accommodation.
When a vacancy is filled, the landlord and care provider pay a small fee equivalent to just one week’s core rent, so it’s probably cheaper to use HOMESin than not to do so. As we say, ‘house people well, end voids quickly’.
HOMESin is currently being piloted with selected local authorities in England with a scheduled launch for September 2019. It has UK-wide scalability though, and will be as useful to Scottish Partnership Boards, providers and social landlords as it will to the local authority NHS landlord/ provider sectors in Wales and Northern Ireland.
The wider significance of HOMESin is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s the product of a frustrated ex-Commissioning Manager who was tasked with resolving a situation where demand for housing for people with learning disabilities outstripped its supply. Except that it didn’t… He put together a comprehensive local database of housing for people with learning disabilities and discovered that actually supply outstripped demand. That’s how the HOMESin idea began.
HOMESin is also a ‘Value Generation’ service. Value Generation is a simple set of principles to underpin how publicly funded services for people with additional needs should be ‘measured’:
It is important to attach a financial value to only the 2nd of these bullet points. Numbers one and three are qualitative outcomes and shouldn’t generally be measured in financial terms.
What outcomes do they achieve for people?
What is the cost-benefit to the public purse?
What wider social benefit do they achieve?
HOMESin isn’t a publicly-funded service but it has a social as well as a commercial objective, which is to generate value for everyone who uses it. It also enables people who use it to make judgements about the value of the HOMESin service to them as well as judgements about the vacancies and services it lists.
English local authorities will be required to operate according to a National Statement of Expectation for supported housing within which they have to identify supply, oversee quality and cost, commission and decommission services amongst many other things. These are also the sort of supported housing ‘market management’ needs that commissioners elsewhere in the UK will need to fulfil.
HOMESin is the ideal access point for market data on supported housing. Availability and location of supply, quality, cost, service types, comparative data, users’ views to name but a few examples of the data available.
There is a need to think about the regulation and oversight of supported housing going forward. This is something else that HOMESin can accommodate, both as a framework for ensuring regulatory compliance and as a means of generating data on the personal outcomes, public cost benefit and wider community benefit (and much else besides) of supported housing.