Habitat for Humanity GB develops underused buildings and land to give vulnerable people a decent place to call home.
We offer creative routes to providing affordable homes in the UK, founded on the values we have as a charity. We partner with community-minded organisations and local authorities to provide new homes and improve community assets. Our project management and construction expertise is able to support charities, churches and councils to directly benefit the community. This is by fostering locally-led visions, engaging and empowering the community in the process.
The Critical Need for Housing
The housing crisis in the UK is essentially a shortage of housing. Today hundreds of thousands of new homes are needed each year in order to combat levels of homelessness, overcrowding and unaffordability. On average, house prices are now almost eight times a person’s annual income, highlighting how unaffordable house purchasing has become.
Through various initiatives, which focus on secure, affordable rent, we are providing part of the solution to complex housing and community challenges that continue to persist. This in turn empowers some of the most marginalised families and vulnerable people in society to achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance.
By investing directly in our communities, we are providing innovative solutions to transform the societal problem of vacant and underused buildings and land into decent homes and facilities for those in need.
Recent Government data shows that over 200,000 homes in England have been empty for over six months. In all, over 600,000 homes are currently vacant. For many years we have been working, along with others, to bring these back into use for affordable homes. Habitat for Humanity offer a “lease and repair” scheme to refurbish empty or disused properties using our own charitable funds, along with other grant funding where available. The affordable rent is used to pay back the cost of repairs and to maintain the properties over the time that they are rented.
We believe in partnership working, and the engagement of all sectors of society in projects to meet local need and provide innovative solutions. We seek to act as a ‘catalytic enabler’ in this context, and bring parties together to achieve a common aim. By bringing added value, whether that is in development terms or social gain, we partner with like-minded organisations who share similar values and ethos.
Habitat for Humanity demonstrate quality assurance, experience, expertise, and a client-led approach that has successfully interpreted and supported our vision through to reality. I have no hesitation in recommending this outstanding organisation, we are very satisfied clients and aim to continue working with them on a range of exciting projects into the future. Chris Kapnisis, Director of Kingsley Hall Church & Community Centre, Dagenham
The clever conversion of our historic Meeting House has enabled us to maintain a town centre presence. We now meet in one part of the refurbished building which, being smaller, is more suited to our needs, environmentally friendly, and easier to maintain. This has given us the opportunity to see the rest of the building transformed into affordable housing units for local young people. There have been many challenges along the way and still are, but the outcome is definitely worth it. Alison Ruff, Member of Quaker Meeting House, Tunbridge Wells
We also see the potential for converting empty commercial spaces into decent affordable homes for vulnerable groups facing homelessness. For many years the traditional ‘High Street’ has been undergoing seismic shifts, and the pandemic has served to accelerate this, and bring it into sharp focus. There is not an automatic assumption that empty spaces could or should be turned into housing. Each location and opportunity needs to be considered with it’s own context, limitations and potential. Habitat for Humanity GB works closely with Local Authority teams, Community Group partners and other local agents to establish the suitability of these spaces for conversion to homes.
The spate of poorly-designed and exploitative conversions of commercial spaces which has sadly been growing since planning changes allowed for wider permitted development rights, means that sound reputation and experience in this arena is much more vital. There is a growing need to sensitively and courageously tackle the problem presented by vacant commercial and retail units with creative and forward-thinking solutions that place the needs of the community first.
We are piloting this in East London where homes are being created for young people leaving statutory care. Other opportunities are provided on these projects, with the local unemployed learning new skills on site. Corporate partners also support these renovations to happen with money and volunteers to help build. We are looking to expand this approach to other areas of the UK.Empty Spaces Model
From start to completion, Habitat for Humanity show a commitment to doing things the right way. Young people in housing need are given a home, others are trained on site, and the street scene has been improved significantly. They are partnering with LBBD to build on this success with further council-owned spaces. Carson Millican, Empty Property Project Officer, LB Barking & Dagenham