London's shelter renaissance: A unified vision for temporary accommodation excellence

Uncover the success story of the Setting the Standard (StS) programme — reshaping London's housing landscape. Our user-centric solution revolutionized temporary accommodation, fostering collaboration, reducing costs, and ensuring top-notch standards for homeless households.

London's shelter renaissance: A unified vision for temporary accommodation excellence
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Temporary accommodation is a vital resource for homeless households in London. However, the quality and management of temporary accommodations vary widely across the city. Some properties do not meet the minimum quality standard, posing a risk to the health and safety of homeless households. Moreover, local authorities face challenges in inspecting and monitoring temporary accommodation, as well as sharing data and best practices with each other.

To address these issues, the London Housing Directors’ Group, with the support of London Councils, commissioned the Setting the Standard (StS) programme in September 2020. The programme aims to ensure that all bed and breakfasts and studio flats used by local authorities for nightly paid temporary accommodation meet the required minimum quality standard. The programme also aims to improve the management of temporary accommodation and facilitate collaboration between local authorities.

The StS programme is delivered by the Commissioning Alliance, a partnership of 31 London boroughs led by the London Borough of Ealing. The Commissioning Alliance worked in partnership with us to develop a product that would solve this key challenge for all of London.


Our approach was to create a user-centred product that would meet the needs and requirements of all key stakeholders involved in the StS programme. These stakeholders included:

  • Placement officers, who are responsible for finding and booking temporary accommodation for homeless households.
  • Inspection officers, who are responsible for inspecting and reporting on the quality of temporary accommodation.
  • London Housing Directors, who are responsible for overseeing the delivery and performance of the StS programme.
  • Providers, who are responsible for managing and maintaining temporary accommodation.
  • Homeless households, who are the end-users of temporary accommodation.

We engaged with these stakeholders through workshops, interviews, surveys, and user-testing sessions to understand their pain points, expectations, and preferences. We also analysed the existing data and processes related to temporary accommodation in London.

Based on our research, we designed and developed a product that would enable the following functions:

  • A centralised database of all temporary accommodation properties in London, with information on their quality, availability, location, and price
  • A standardised inspection framework and checklist, with a mobile app for inspection officers to conduct and record inspections.
  • A dashboard for placement officers to search for and book temporary accommodation, with filters and ratings to help them find the most suitable properties.
  • A dashboard for London Housing Directors to monitor and evaluate the performance and impact of the StS programme, with indicators and reports to help them identify issues and opportunities.
  • A communication channel for providers to receive and respond to inspection results, feedback, and requests from local authorities.

We followed an agile methodology to deliver the product, with regular sprints and iterations based on user feedback and testing.


The StS programme has been successfully implemented across London, with positive outcomes and impacts for both homeless households and local authorities. Some of the key results include:

Our relationship continues, and the team at Rapid remains responsive and attentive to our needs and is always working tirelessly to ensure that our software solutions fit our business requirements and that our products deliver the maximum return on investment.
Zofia Szatkowska, Product Technical and Development Lead at Commissioning Alliance

The StS programme is a leading example of how pan-London collaboration can improve the quality of temporary accommodation for homeless households. The programme has enhanced the safety, security, and condition of temporary accommodation in London and improved the management and coordination of the temporary accommodation sector. The programme has also delivered key benefits for local authorities, such as reducing the cost and time of inspecting temporary accommodation, increasing the visibility of temporary accommodation choices, and ensuring that all homeless households in their area are receiving the standard of accommodation that they deserve.

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