A new not-for-profit company set up by 13 London boroughs has begun procuring accommodation for homeless Londoners.
Capital Letters, which is collectively owned by the boroughs and supported by £38 million of grant funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, was established in December 2018 to improve the procurement and management of properties in London for alleviating and preventing homelessness, as well as ensuring a better experience for those affected.
This collaborative approach will enable boroughs to access more accommodation across London and will provide a framework for placing households as close as possible to their home borough and support networks.
This week Capital Letters secured its first home in Tower Hamlets, with many more expected to be procured in the coming months.
The news comes as Capital Letters unveils its senior leadership team. Sue Coulson has been appointed Chief Executive. Sue has spent many years in leadership roles in the housing sector, including previously working at Rentplus UK and housing associations such as DCH, emh Group, and Orbit, having started her career at Coventry City Council.
Philip Smith has been appointed Director of Finance and Resources. This follows twenty years’ experience in the housing sector as a Finance Director and in other senior roles with Network, Aldwyck and CHS. Prior to this he worked in the commercial sector, including in property, construction and sales.
With 13 London boroughs formally becoming founding members in March 2019, the launch of Capital Letters has been co-ordinated by the umbrella body London Councils and the London Housing Directors’ Group. Capital Letters is currently based at London Councils’ offices in Southwark Street.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said:
“It’s brilliant news that Capital Letters has started securing accommodation for homeless Londoners.
“Capital Letters shows that boroughs are committed to working together to secure better results for our residents. We’re really pleased to have the government’s support for this vital work as it gets underway.
“With London’s homelessness rates skyrocketing, Capital Letters represents exactly the sort of bold, innovative thinking that’s needed to reduce costs in procuring the accommodation that homeless Londoners and those at risk of homelessness need.”
Sue Coulson, Chief Executive of Capital Letters, said:
“I’m thrilled to have joined Capital Letters and to be leading this important venture. London faces a worsening homelessness crisis, and Capital Letters has a crucial role to play in improving housing options for homeless Londoners.
“Capital Letters is an exciting and innovative new approach, and I look forward to working with the boroughs, our partners and stakeholders to ensure that Capital Letters is a success. Capital Letters will make a real difference to people’s lives – and that’s a huge motivation for me as I lead its development over the coming months and years.”
Mark Baigent, Chair of the Capital Letters Board, said:
“Capital Letters is a gamechanger in how we secure accommodation for those in housing need.
“It’s fantastic that Sue is now in post and that Capital Letters has begun procuring accommodation on behalf of its member boroughs. We’re hugely pleased by the progress that has been made in getting Capital Letters off the ground.”
Capital Letters represents a significant step forward for the boroughs’ collaborative approach to tackling homelessness. The scheme is one of London Councils’ Pledges to Londoners, a series of pan-London priorities that borough leaders aim to make progress on over the next three years.