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The Problem

Housing conditions in the United Kingdom are now considered to be among the worst in Western Europe; there is a chronic shortage of affordable homes leading to over-crowding and a rise in homelessness.

This Government’s target of 150,000 new affordable homes being built by 2015 was dealt a severe blow when only 10% of this figure were registered as new build ‘starts’ for the 2011-2012 period. Failure to meet such housing targets has left an estimated 1.7 million people on housing waiting lists; many living in squalid conditions with no long term security.

The Empty Homes Agency estimates that there are over 930,000 empty homes across the United Kingdom; 350,000 of which have been vacant for over six months. Disturbingly, both un-inhabitable homes and properties due for demolition are not included in these statistics; abandonment of this scale is bad for local communities as it denies homes for those in housing need and provides a honey pot for crime and anti-social behaviour.

Government Response

The Government’s thrust to empower private developers and Registered Social Landlords to achieve new building quotas has taken priority over the refurbishment of existing stock. Whilst it continues on it’s path of austerity, funding for new or existing housing projects remains restricted; lack of investment here is fuelling increases in both crime and homelessness.

We have proven that empty home renovation offers the most cost effective solution to the housing problems stated above. The social, financial and environmental savings to retain existing, structurally sound, empty properties, that can be upgraded at low cost, makes sound economic and ecological sense.

For this reason, we have chosen to focus our activities and resources in Merseyside; a housing action area with approximately 29,294 empty homes and 48,000 people on the housing waiting list.

Our Plan

Over the coming period, working in conjunction with the Local Authority’s renewal plan, we intend to purchase 100 empty properties and bring them back into habitable use as affordable homes.

We will renovate each property up to and beyond the Decent Homes Standard using local labour at all times. Each property will be upgraded to improve it’s energy efficiency and environmental impact. Refurbishments will be professionally managed to ensure a high standard of workmanship and a timely completion. Once renovated, the accommodation will be let at an affordable rent to people who are homeless, facing homelessness or in desperate housing need.

We will recoup our investment by transferring ownership of the completed properties to a housing association, charity or similar organisation who are committed to retaining them on a long term affordable housing basis.

Support

Income generated from sales will be used to support The Homesavers Charity which offers assistance to low income and homeless people who are unable to gain access to private lets due to their inability to provide a deposit or tenancy guarantee; allowing vulnerable tenants to move out of inadequate housing, often owned by rogue landlords, and into higher quality homes.

We also aim to provide help to other non- profit organisations who assist the homeless or are intending to develop their own affordable housing projects.

Costings

During the ten years that we have been undertaking empty property renovations, the purchase and refurbishment costs have been both qualified and quantified. Within the Merseyside area, £50,000 is the average expenditure we anticipate that will be required to purchase and refurbish a traditional two to four bedroomed terraced house; this figure has been calculated using economies of scale for all properties within the planned project.

Where You Fit In

As a registered Industrial and Provident Society, we are able to raise money by issuing Loanstock. This is an ideal method for us to borrow money from socially aware investors whose expectations are of a social dividend rather than a financial gain; these range from public spirited individuals to companies, charities and other societies. Monies raised in this way will be used to fund property purchases and refurbishment work costs in order to achieve our Plan.

Getting Involved

You can help us by investing in our Loanstock and choosing the level of interest you wish to receive; ranging from 0% to 5%. We hope that you will support this initiative and will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

To see the Terms & Conditions of our latest Community Bond ‘Loanstock 30’ issue and download the Offer Document, please click here.