Posted by: Alex Wellman18/01/2012
The ringing in of the New Year does little if anything for the same old problems.
Across the length and breadth of this land, there are thousands upon thousands of empty homes.
It is a subject which I have written of before and one which last year, thanks to Channel Four, received some long overdue attention.
The government has pledged cash and is looking at the issuing of council tax upon these properties as ways of incentivising them being brought back into use. All of which will help chip away at the problem.
So it was with interest that I read about a housing co-op deciding to take control of the situation in its area by going right to the heart of the problem.
Phoenix Housing co-op, in jolly old Hackney, has just finished renovating a disused property in the East End of London – an area which, historically, is all too familiar with housing crises of one form or another.
The co-op has tarted the building up and converted it into nine studio flats for single people on low-incomes after signing a lease with the owners last year.
This, the group say, is something they wish to do more of in and around the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets.
It is seeking out owners of disused properties and asking for 10-year leases in return for renovation. It sounds like a great idea and one which could be implemented in other parts of the country without the need for interference from the government.
There really does seem to be very few drawbacks to this scheme.
All a cynical journo is left to worry about is if there are a series of safeguards in place which ensure that the new homes go to those people who need them and that renovations are done by local contractors or by local trainees being taught by local contractors.
From Can we fix it?
Alex Wellman takes a look at what’s going on in the social housing contracting sector