Local communities tackle housing crisis by building their own homes

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Local communities are creating affordable homes by setting up and managing their own housing developments…

Local-led projects to tackle the housing crisis have given communities the chance to develop affordable homes in their area.

The housing crisis remains a significant problem and one that is still a source of discussion. While the government has made inroads into tackling the issue it is perhaps communities themselves that can offer a solution.

Community housing projects are beginning to attract substantial interest and undoubtedly have a range of benefits. It allows local housing needs to be met, while raising funds through rental incomes that can then be reinvested into more properties or regeneration schemes.

Locality, a national network of community-led organisations, has joined forced with the Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) to highlight the work undertaken by these new housing developments.

The projects help local people to access new and refurbished rented affordable housing, preventing these properties from being sold or bought by buy to let landlords. In a series of open days called ‘See for yourself’ Locality aims to bring greater awareness of the projects.

The open days will focus on a number of innovate approaches put forward by local communities including modular-build homes, ultra-low energy developments, derelict property refurbishments, and the reuse of former commercial sites.

Chief executive Tony Armstrong said: “Communities can and should be building their own housing. The housing crisis is on everyone’s minds as people are priced out of buying their own homes, paying exorbitant rents in the private sector or forced to wait for years on the social housing register.

“There are already lots of successful small-scale community-led housing groups doing amazing work and bringing huge benefits to their areas but we want to show communities all over the country that they too can be masters of their own destinies.

“With commercial housebuilding at such a low ebb and the extension of the government’s Right to Buy scheme, communities building their own housing is a no-brainer. But neighbourhoods who want to do their bit to ease the housing crisis and benefit their own communities need to be supported and championed by central and local government.

“There are so many options available to groups to reflect local communities, their needs, strengths and opportunities. There is no one-size-fits-all model and this programme of visits will showcase a whole range of exciting possibilities.”

David Ireland, Director at BSHF also commented: “Community-led housing is potentially the most exciting thing going on in the housing world at the moment.

“Traditional forms of housing are increasingly littered with barriers for people. Whether it be price, availability, or qualification requirements; it’s so difficult for people to get the home they need.

“But community-led housing allows communities to write their own rules and take control of housing themselves.”

According to recent research from Locality, groups that develop their own small-scale developments can act as a lynchpin for further community activity. The report ‘Small Scale Community-led housing’ revealed quality housing services are being provided as well as responsive maintenance and management. Additionally, these schemes are employing local tradespeople and generating income for local economies.

The programme, which will last a year, will start next month with a visit to the London Community Neighbourhood Co-operative on 16 March. This scheme is planning to construct a self-build straw bale apartment block in central London.

Subsequent visits over the next 12 months will be made to Hull, Glasgow, Cardiff, Liverpool, Leicester, and Hastings, with the final visit in Totnes in March 2017.

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