Nobody knows more about a local area and its needs than the people that live in it. In recent years, the UK government and London City Hall have recognised this and made money available for communities to plan, contribute, build and manage their own housing projects that serve their communities. The name for this type of project is ‘community-led housing’. Here we’re giving you a breakdown of the different types of scheme and how you can get involved within your own community.
First of all – what is community-led housing?
Community-led housing projects are well established pathways that have existed since the 1960s and 1970s. They mean that members of the local community can get involved with delivering affordable housing that makes a difference in their neighbourhood.
Community-led housing projects rarely look the same; they are tailored by members in order to meet the challenges a neighbourhood is facing. In large cities, rising house prices and rents may encourage residents to take control and create housing to plug the gaps. In more rural areas however, depopulation can be a challenge. In Scotland, some projects have been building affordable, heat-efficient homes to attract families back to areas.
Some schemes also exist to serve a particular part of society and match the needs of a charity’s work. A good example of this is Stonewall Housing Association, an organisation that gives LBGTQ+ specific housing support, advice and training, and works in partnership with much larger housing providers like Clarion, Peabody and L&Q to deliver housing.
Secure, affordable housing and the transformative effect that a coming together of community can have lie at the heart of the community-led housing movement today.
Alex Talbot, Regeneration Officer at the London Borough of Croydon
Who can form community-led housing projects?
The answer is simple – anyone can do it! Here are some well-established forms that some of these projects might take.
Existing community organisations:
Groups that already serve the local community, such as women’s refuges, alcohol dependency support or organisations like Stonewall (mentioned above) might wish to extend the work they already do to deliver complete support to the people they are already helping.
This could mean campaigns from resident groups focused on solving shared challenges. These groups might take the form of property owners that look to create affordable homes for the community by adapting their current properties. They could also be ‘self-build’ groups that take on empty homes and bring them up to a decent standard for living.
In this instance, a landowner, housing association, local authority or building firm approaches community-led housing groups for their expertise, involvement and possible ongoing management when looking to invest in affordable housing for a local area.
Housing associations have a long-term social purpose and can deliver community-led housing by teaming up with resident groups to share resources and expertise. These can be very efficient projects, as housing associations already have the tools and professional relationships with contractors and builders to get projects moving.
Funding and involvement
Community-led housing is becoming an increasingly popular method of home delivery in the UK. In 2016, the government budget promised £60million a year to support projects! 148 local authorities were included in the allocations. In 2019, London City Hall opened a £38million London Community Housing Fund; for those accessing this fund one of the most important elements is protecting in law the affordable/community-minded types of tenancy for the lifetime of the building. Community-led housing is ultimately an opportunity for residents to make a long-term impact within their neighbourhoods.
Want to get involved? Look out on local noticeboards for any community-led housing workshops being run in your area by your local authority or community housing groups. You can also take a look at a map of current projects here.
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