LandAid awards £1.3m to turn derelict properties into homes for young homeless

Sally Robinson | 06.04.16

LandAid has awarded £1.3m in grants to bring empty or derelict properties back into use as much needed homes for young people who are homeless. A total of 15 exceptional projects in cities across the country including London, Leeds and Bristol have been selected to receive the funding.

The new homes created will go a long way to help over 175 young people who are homeless, or at severe risk of becoming so, by providing safe and affordable accommodation. With levels of homelessness soaring, rents rising exponentially and youth services being cut, LandAid’s investment comes at a time of critical need.

The 15 successful projects were selected from a shortlist of 57 contenders who applied for support when the LandAid Empty Properties Funding Programme opened last October. Projects set to benefit from the funding include an award-winning community venture in Leeds, a mother and baby unit on the Isle of Wight and a pub conversion in Fencehouses, near Sunderland.

One recipient of LandAid’s funding is the pioneering Canopy Housing in Leeds, which has recently won the prestigious World Habitat Award. The organisation prides itself on an innovative self-help model which sees future tenants work with local volunteers to renovate their future home. A £80,000 grant from LandAid will enable Canopy to turn three empty properties in inner city areas of Leeds into decent affordable housing for six young people who are currently homeless, or at risk of becoming so. The young people will participate in painting, decorating and furnishing their new homes; a self-help principle which ensures the tenants feel a sense of ownership and learn practical skills.

The LandAid Empty Properties Funding Programme forms a central part of the charity’s new initiative to work with the property industry to end youth homelessness. With the help of 120 property companies and membership organisations who back their cause, LandAid is hoping to raise £3 million this year to support more projects across the UK delivering life-changing services to young people.

Government reports cite that there are currently 200,000 long-term empty homes in England alone. At a time when millions of families are stuck on waiting lists for council housing and levels of homeless are soaring, it seems illogical to leave so many properties unoccupied. Empty homes are bad for neighbourhoods, for crime and for local business. LandAid’s new funding programme offers a way of bringing disused properties back in to use whilst at the same time training people who have been unemployed in construction skills and supporting their employability.

Projects set to benefit from the funding are located in Basingstoke, Bristol, Brixham, Fencehouses, Grimsby, Hull, Isle of Wight, Leeds, Lincoln, London, Middlesbrough, North Shields, Peterborough, Rotherham and Wolverhampton.

Steve Hoey, Director of Canopy Housing, said: "This grant is a great boost to Canopy. It will enable us to get homeless young people involved in creating homes for themselves. They will learn skills and make connections as they renovate empty houses, and we will support them to look for work.

Paul Morrish, Chief Executive of LandAid, said: “We’re delighted to be able to announce £1.3m worth of grant awards to turn empty buildings into safe and affordable homes for young people who’ve been homeless. Those young people may need all sorts of support – access to training and education, a decent job, encouragement and belief, but most importantly, they need somewhere to call home.

Having launched our new ambition to help end youth homelessness, LandAid and the 120 property companies and associations that support us are proud to be investing in 175 new bed spaces around the UK. These are real foundations for young people’s futures.”