Sunday, 04 October 2015

Barriers hold back self-help housing groups

Groups that renovate empty homes for homeless people are being held back by lack of funding and access to properties, a report has found.

The report from charity Crisis, produced by the Third Sector Research Centre, looks at self-help housing. This usually involves groups of local people, often social enterprises, which source and renovate derelict properties for homeless people.

It found the groups were finding it difficult to secure empty properties to renovate and sufficient income to deliver the projects. Social landlords have also been unwilling to release properties because of rising demand for housing.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: ‘Self-help housing organisations perfectly complement the coalition’s vision for a big society. Local organisations helping local people not only find a home, but the skills and qualifications to move on with their lives.

‘Our research shows that there is real potential to help more people in this way, but for two significant barriers: lack of funding and lack of empty properties.’

She urged central and local government to address these issues.

The research says local authorities and housing associations could address these issues by offering derelict properties to self-help housing organisations directly. However, the report also recognises most empty properties are privately owned and suggests larger third sector organisations could buy privately owned properties and link with social enterprises to renovate them.

According to the Homes and Communities Agency there were an estimated 784,000 vacant homes in England in September 2009, most of which were in the private sector.

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