HOUSING chiefs are celebrating after being shortlisted for a national award after helping young tenants at risk of homelessness.
East Durham Homes (EDH), in partnership with Durham County Council and Stonham Housing Association, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) awards.
The group has been recognised in the Best Practice for Supporting People category for its taster flats initiative.
TPAS specialises in tenant involvement at a national level and its annual awards recognise tenants who go the extra mile, innovative pioneering schemes and team efforts that make communities safer and more desirable places to live.
EDH is part of the county-wide Homeless Action Partnership (HAP).
The group recognised that there are some young people who move into independence without basic skills, which can result in the loss of accommodation and homelessness.
EDH decided to look at ways of providing starter, or "taster", flats to help these young people.
EDH worked closely with the local community to identify suitable properties and a block of three two-bedroom flats in Peterlee were identified as the taster flats.
The flat block provides two flats with shared accommodation which can house four young people and a ground-floor flat provides accommodation for staff who are available from 3pm to support the young people through the evening and night time.
The project has been running since March 2010 and has so far helped seven young people aged between 16 and 22.
Pam Cox, EDH's tenancy support manager, said: "The taster flats initiative shows we are helping young people in the area get off to a good start when moving into independent living.
"For the partnership to be recognised and shortlisted for this award is a real achievement and we are keeping our fingers crossed for February when we find out who has won in the Northern region."
The TPAS Northern awards ceremony takes place on February 11 in Manchester.
Winners from each region will then go into the national final which will be held during the
TPAS annual conference in July 2011.