Further £52m needed by Community Housing Organisations to Tackle Empty Homes Crisis

01/12/2014

It’s Empty Homes Week and Community Housing Organisations around England are calling for a further £52m from the new Government, over the next three years, to bring more empty properties back into use.

“The Coalition took a bold step in 2012”said Jon Fitzmaurice, Director of Self-Help Housing "by creating an innovative Community Grants Programme within their mainstream £160m Empty Homes Programme.  This has resulted in £50m being made available to over 100 small local organisation organisations across England, in order  to either acquire, or lease, around 2,000 empty  street properties in need of repair. As well as providing much needed accommodation, many schemes have also provided training and volunteering opportunities for young unemployed people and have also often led to a reduction in anti-social behaviour and crime.  We recently conducted a Survey among organisations currently in receipt of funding, and have identified demand to a further capital programme of £52m over the next three years."

“Many organisations like Giroscope & Goodwin Development Trust in Hull, Canopy and Latch in Leeds, Community Campus in Stockton, Phases and Habitat for Humanity in London and Somerset Care & Repair have used their local knowledge to secure properties and source cost -effective direct labour, small builders, apprentices and even volunteers. As a result, street properties left empty for up to 20 years have been brought back into use, disused pubs have been converted into accommodation and empty flats over shops have been repaired and re-occupied.”

The DCLG’s Empty Homes Programme runs from 2012 to March 31st 2015 and amounts to £150m. The Programme was originally intended to be allocated to housing associations and local authorities by the HCA. However, as a result of lobbying, the Coalition agreed to create a separate Community Grants Programme for community organisations which was outsourced to Tribal Group. Over the two rounds of funding, around £50m has been allocated to over 100 local community housing organisations, which would otherwise have been unable to access government funding for housing. Over 2,000 homes will have been created through either acquiring or leasing empty street properties in need of repair. At the present time there is no commitment to provide any further funding.

Hact & Self-Help Housing have been working with these organisations providing a capacity building programme. The Survey of future demand was conducted in September 2014 among 100 organisations in receipt of funding and the results are based on a 73% response rate. Organisations were asked to estimate how much capital funding they would be able to spend on bringing empty properties back into use between 2015 and 2018 

Empty Homes Week runs from 1st -5th December. Further details about the Week and the Campaign to reduce the number of long term empty properties, being organised by the Empty Homes Agency, can be found at www.emptyhomes.com At the end of March 2014  EHA reports that there were over 610,000  empty homes in England, according to the latest council tax base returns.  

Contacts & Further Information:

Jon Fitzmaurice Self Help Housing 07939 593 251

Anna Carnegie HACT 020 7250 8500