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Leeds City Council renews Empty Homes Doctor funding

Leeds City Council has decided to provide a further 3-years' worth of funding to the Empty Homes Strategy, focusing on the Holbeck area of the city.

A seven-page report to the Executive (accessible from our Information Library - Full Members only - here) spells out the significant successes achieved over the previous three years. It notes the particular importance of partnerships with community-led housing organisations such as Canopy and Latch, and, in particular, the Empty Homes Doctor service, which is having its funding renewed.

The report sets a target of 138 long-term empties (i.e. over 6 months empty) to be brought back into use each year and justifies the investment of funding from the New Homes Bonus earned.

The decision was picked up and highlighted in a story in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Over 700 squatters arrested since criminalisation in 2012

According to a recent story on Orbis's website, 700 squatters have been arrested since squatting of residential properties was criminalised in September 2012.

The story claims that 148 arrests were made in 2015, bringing the overall total up to 736 since the provisions of the Act went live.The story notes that many of those charged were also charged with other offences.

For further details, refer to the full story here. The source of the information is not stated.

Gavin Barwell is new Housing and Planning Minister

Gavin Barwell, M.P. for Croydon Central, is to replace Brandon Lewis as the Minister for Housing and Planning at the Department of Communities and Local Government. He is also to be Minister for London.

Barwell became an M.P. in 2010 and has previously been a junior member of the government, including as Parliamentary Private Secretary for Greg Clark.  Greg Clark has also moved on, to be replaced as Communities Secretary by Savid Javid.

There is not much information about Barwell's views on housing, and specifically empty homes. A 2014 Vision for Croydon document jointly published by the three Croydon Conservative MPs has a short section on Empty Homes which reads as follows.

Bring empty homes back into use
There are too many homes in Croydon sitting empty. Not only are they often a blight on their local neighbourhoods, they could be housing a family currently in overcrowded or otherwise unsuitable accommodation. We’d like to see the Council use its compulsory purchase powers to buy them and sell them on to local families.

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Ireland ponders empty homes strategy

The Republic of Ireland's Housing Agency has produced a report that explores the possibility of a national empty homes strategy for the Republic.  The report draws on the experience of strategies and programmes in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, including for example that of Wales, but a strategy for an independent sovereign nation would be a an exciting precedent, where Ireland could well develop an exemplar from which we could all learn.

2016 Conference another success

'Very informative - put me down for next year' was a typical feedback comment from a delegate to the 2016 Empty Homes Conference in Birmingham.

The average number of stars awarded by delegates was 4.53 out of 5, maintaining the level of satisfaction seen in previous years. And despite austerity, the numbers attending were only marginally lower than in 2015.

£1.3million grants for empty homes projects to address youth homelessness

Property industry charity Landaid has awarded £1.3million in grants to projects to provide housing for young homeless people by bringing empty homes back into use.

There were 57 applications for the available grant, and awards were made to 15 projects, including World Habitat Award winners Canopy. Canopy's £80,000 grant will enable them to refurbish three properties and provide housing for six young homeless people.