The challenge of building more affordable homes – Rob Greenland of Leeds Community Homes guest blogs for Ecology

15 December 2016
Rob GreenlandRob Greenland, a founder member of Leeds Community Homes guest blogs on the challenges of building more affordable homes and shares the latest on a new community-led housing initiative taking shape in Leeds…

 

Housing is rarely out of the headlines these days, and for all sorts of good reasons.

We’re not building enough homes – and we’re certainly not building anywhere near enough homes that are affordable to rent or to buy.  Millions of people in our country struggle to find a decent affordable place to live.  And it’s pretty clear that things aren’t getting any better.

Faced with a housing crisis, it can be easy to feel a bit powerless.  But you don’t have to look very far to find people who are taking matters into their own hands and coming up with creative, entrepreneurial ways to provide more affordable, environmentally sustainable homes.

Just in the city where I live, Leeds, there are several examples of people working together to provide better quality housing.   Community-led housing organisations like Canopy and Latch have been renovating empty homes for over twenty years – providing people in housing need with stable tenancies in well-maintained homes.  Their “self-help” approach encourages people to get involved in renovating homes – helping people to develop new skills.

More recently, LILAC has developed as a co-housing community in west Leeds, made up of 20 homes and a common house – all built to a high standard of environmental sustainability.  Alongside the positive environmental impact, the people behind LILAC have come up with a model to make the homes more affordable – whilst the co-housing element tackles one of the issues often faced in new housing development – the lack of a sense of community.

Building on what’s already happening in the city, a group of us recently set up Leeds Community Homes, a community benefit society which aims to be involved in the creation of 1000 affordable homes in Leeds over the next ten years.  We want to do that by creating homes ourselves – and by supporting others to do the same.  So we plan to build and renovate homes that we will own – whilst also getting behind groups of local people who, for example, want to set up a co-housing community, or a housing co-op.

We recently launched a community share offer – to raise £360,000 for our first project – to create 16 permanently affordable people-powered homes in the emerging Climate Innovation District in Leeds.  Acting as a Community Land Trust for Leeds, we’ll ensure that these homes remain available for people to live in affordably.

We don’t pretend that we can solve the housing crisis on our own.  But we think this people powered approach is part of the solution – both to create more of the housing we need – and to create a movement to influence how we create better homes for people to live in.

More information about Leeds Community Homes, and their community share offer, is available at www.leedscommunityhomes.org.uk

Rob Greenland is a founder member of Leeds Community Homes.  He is also co-director of Social Business Brokers CIC, a social enterprise best known for their Empty Homes Doctor service.