This partnership award was the final one to be presented in our Empty Homes Awards 2014 ceremony, (ceremony sponsored by Grafton UK Ltd).
It was a new award, sponsored jointly by Habitat for Humanity and self-help-housing.org (with support from the Housing Association Charitable Trust) and the competition was fierce - so fierce in fact that the judges had great difficulty in pulling out a winner. Eventually it was decided to declare joint winners, withe honours shared between the Hull Empty Homes Partnership and Rochdale Borough Council and Groundwork. And the panel also recognised the submisson of Emmaus Salford and Salford City Council with a "Highly Commended" award.
On this page:
So to the submissions:
Hull's Empty Homes Partnership
Hull Empty Homes Partnership was established in 2012 in response to the government’s launch of funding to tackle empty homes. The partnership originally included five community sector organisations and Hull City Council. The initial aim of the partnership was to maximise the funding achieved to tackle the exceptionally high levels of private sector empty homes in the city. Recognising the far-reaching benefits of tackling empty properties, Hull City Council supported all community partner bids through the community route, as well as submitting its own bids through the Registered Provider routes.
Upon news of all organisations succeeding in their bids, the partnership continued into the delivery of the schemes. The partnership included Giroscope; WINNER; PANDA; DISC; Probe; and Hull City Council. Regular meetings were established and all partners committed to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (available at Appendix 1).
Following successful delivery under round 1, with more than 80 units achieved in the first year, the Council, four of the original partners and one new partner successfully bid to round 2 of the Empty Homes Programme. Goodwin Community Housing then joined which completed the partnership and the seven organisations continue to work together today. Each organisation has its own social aims and operates in specific localities. Detailed information on each partner is set out at Appendix 2.
The partnership champions the provision of quality affordable housing from the existing stock. All properties are refurbished to the Decent Homes Standard and are managed and maintained by the partners. This increases the supply of quality housing in the city and improves neighbourhoods through the reduction of empty homes. Additionally the partnership creates employment, apprenticeships and training opportunities with many partners providing placements for specific groups including people who are long-term unemployed and those who have recently left prison for example.
Funding and Outputs
Almost £16 million of funding has been secured to create 617 units of housing from empty properties in the city. The table at Appendix 3 sets out levels of funding secured by each partner and their targets for numbers of units.
The partnership delivers a co-ordinated approach to tackling empty properties across the city. Each partner has defined the geographic areas in which they are focused and the products which they can offer to property owners. Some organisations offer a mix of purchase and leases and others are focused on one route. In addition to the two acquisition options, owners can also take out an interest free loan to bring their property back into use. The partners’ products complement one another enabling a holistic approach to tackling empty properties.
Hull City Council utilises Council Tax data to identify empty homes and corresponds with owners. The owners contact the Council and express their preferred option and their written consent is obtained. A referral is then made to the community partner organisations. Where owners refuse to bring their properties back into use the Council takes enforcement action to ensure that they do so. To date this has resulted in 20 properties being made brought back into use by the community organisations in the partnership.
In addition to properties being identified through the Council’s data, partners are pro-actively seeking out empty properties though estate agents, auction sites and through walk-arounds.
Area specific action
Due to the pre-agreed geographic preferences and continuous engagement there is no competition between partners for the same property meaning that grant funding is not spent unnecessarily on increased acquisition costs which enables the funding to go further.
A number of areas in the city exhibit severe housing market decline with high levels of vacancy; anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood nuisance; and poor quality housing stock. At the start of the programme the partnership agreed a coherent strategy to target these areas in order to achieve maximum impact and value from the funding available. As well as tackling empty properties, the Council is delivering frontage improvement schemes and external solid wall insulation schemes which further enhances the neighbourhoods and provides improved energy efficient housing stock. Photographs of completed improvements are available at Appendix 4.
At any one time there can be four partners working on one court terrace or one street simultaneously to tackle all of the empty properties at once. The Council also undertakes a range of complementary activities to address other neighbourhood issues. This includes enforcement action against private landlords who are not maintaining their properties adequately; taking action against anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping; organising bring out your rubbish days; and working with the Police and the Fire Service to tackle crime and implement fire prevention measures. Owner occupiers are also offered financial assistance to improve their homes.
The success of the Partnership has been achieved in part by the effective use of a data sharing protocol which enables the Council to share landlord information with partners securely online. Each partner has signed up to the protocol which is available at Appendix 5.
A further reason for success is the regular engagement between partners. Monthly meetings, hosted on a rotational basis, enable clear communications on progress with individual properties, identification of properties for enforcement, and sharing good practice between partners. This forum has also provided the opportunity for guest speakers and visits from the Hull Civic Society, the Probation Service and Jobcentre Plus.
To date the partnership has brought more than 180 homes into use and work is underway at a further 90 properties. Not only has this created a new supply of affordable homes at a time of great demand, but it has also generated £1million in New Homes Bonus and almost £500,000 in Affordable Homes Bonus which will be reinvested in the city.
The partnership has also increased employment and training across the city, more than 30 apprenticeships and nearly 300 work experience opportunities have been created. Overall the net number of long term empty properties in the city has reduced by 406 from 2011 to 2014.
The partnership has attracted significant media attention both locally and nationally in recognition of the positive outcomes being achieved through its co-ordinated approach. A selection of articles is available at Appendix 6.
The Future of the partnership
Despite the current empty homes funding coming to an end in March 2015, the commitment, desire and optimism within the Hull Empty Homes Partnership continues and the partners, some of whom are now registering as Registered Providers, will strive to attract further funding to develop the programme and to tackle the remaining 2000 empty private sector properties in the city.
Below: David Clare (standing right) with the Hull Partnership representatives.
Groundwork (Rochdale) and Rochdale Borough Council
Groundwork helps people and organisations make changes in order to create better neighbourhoods, to build skills and job prospects, and to live and work in a greener way. We’re a registered charity with over 30 years of experience working with partners to deliver successful projects across the Bolton, Bury Oldham and Rochdale area. We know that the important issues are all connected – our work covers 'environmental issues’, 'regeneration', ‘youth and community work’, ‘business support’, 'employment' and ‘training’. Our joined up approach means we create projects and services that benefit people, the environment and wider society. The work we deliver around bringing long term empty properties back in to use is an important part of what we do as a vehicle to provide skills and jobs to local long term unemployed individuals.
Groundwork has been bringing empty homes back into the rental market since 2009. Under the empty homes funding it has enable Groundwork to develop a strategic and long term partnership with the Council’s Strategic Housing Team in helping to meet the Council’s Empty Homes Strategy by:
- Under Rounds 1&2 funding – bringing 16 long term empties back into local use using the repair and lease model
- Supporting 64 local long term unemployed people through a linked skills and employment programme which lies at the very heart of this programme
- We help local unemployed people through a vocational training package and wrap around job search support to find jobs. A set of 4 learners are identified for every property to work on this programme. In that time they will get hands-on experience by working in the properties and they will also gain a recognised trade qualification called the Building Craft Occupancy qualification, a CSCS card and wrap around support from our dedicated Work Programme team in Rochdale with job search, CV support & interview techniques.
- Through our relationship with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing and the Council most trainees will be guaranteed an interview with a local contractor when they have successfully completed our programme. Our track record shows that over 80% of learners we have worked with to date have either gained a job or gone into further training as a result of this programme.
- Once renovated we rent the homes at affordable rents to benefit some of the most vulnerable people in Rochdale
- Once renovated under a Housing Management Agreement we pay the local Housing Provider Rochdale Boroughwide Housing to manage the properties for us for up to 10 years
The programme would not be possible without the vision and support from Rochdale Council. They have supported us by:
- Providing a senior key contact – Peter Maynard – who plays an active role in supporting Groundwork
- Provide funding to the programme – without this we would not be able to deliver the programme
- Discussing with us ideas in how the Council can support this work beyond the grant ending in 2015
- Hold an annual empty homes event where landlord are invited to hear about what the scheme can offer them
- Implement Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) in trying to bring properties forward for our programme
- Individually write to landlords who own vacant properties inviting them in to meet with us
- Help us publicise the scheme through press releases and member briefings
- Provide technical support at the early stages in pulling the scheme of works together on the properties we take into the programme
Another important partner to us is Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, they:
- Provide a senior contact to help unblock and manage any issues
- Allow us to use their Stores for materials we need in the properties
- Allow us to use their skilled staff (electricians, gas engineers) on the properties we renovate
- Manage the properties on our behalf (at a small fee) as they see the wider picture in terms of programmes aim in supporting local people back into work
- Supporting progression of learners into interviews with local contractors engaged on RBH contracts
“It has improved my confidence and knowledge of working with people in the building industry. It also improved my training in other trades I have never done before. The course was a confidence builder. It improves team work and improves hands on knowledge of the building trades.”
“The scheme was a fantastic experience”
“The Groundwork staff really helped me along the way, giving me good support and encouragement. It drives you forward to move to a better life and has widened my horizons.”
Below - Darryl Lawrence of Rochdale Housing Initiative (left) receiving the award from David Clare (Habitat for Humanity, right) on behalf of the Rochdale partnership.
EMMAUS SALFORD AND SALFORD CITY COUNCIL
The partnership between Emmaus Salford and Salford City Council, formed ten years ago, has been pivotal in the formation of an Emmaus community in Salford. The project has been supported by council officers and is chaired by Councillor Val Burgoyne. Emmaus communities support formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to get back on their feet again. Emmaus Salford will be the 25th community to open in the UK.
Salford has significantly higher rates of statutory homelessness in comparison with the average for England. Furthermore, 45% of those people who are homeless in Salford are not eligible for housing through the Council. Emmaus Salford will offer a positive alternative for single homeless people, who make up the majority of this group. Emmaus House is located in Langworthy, which is among the top 10 wards for multiple deprivation in the UK.
The city council encourages the use of previously developed land and buildings to support regeneration in the local area. This Emmaus project contributes to these objectives by returning the disused former nursing home, Emmaus House, into a community house and place of work for 26 homeless and vulnerable people. The city council had previously supported Emmaus Salford to open a very successful smaller shop premises, at a peppercorn rent.
Emmaus Salford will contribute to the Council’s Housing Strategy to reduce homelessness within the city through a partnership approach with other agencies. Emmaus Salford is also well placed to contribute to the Council’s objective to tackle the causes of homelessness, as it takes a holistic approach to working with residents.
After the successful submission for funding to the Empty Property Community Grants Programme, refurbishment commenced in December 2013 on the accommodation phases with practical completion being achieved in April 2014.
During the refurbishment phase consultancy work was awarded to Urban Vision, a joint venture between Salford City Council, Capita Symonds and Morrison Highways Maintenance. Urban Vision has since provided the multi-disciplinary design and management support to deliver this project. Additional funding was secured for a retail shop on the site and the work was tendered to contractors on the city council’s approved list of contractors. The shop opened on the 5th April 2014 and will help to ensure Emmaus Salford meets one of Emmaus’s strategic objectives to become financially and organisationally secure.
All the redecoration will be carried out by Emmaus companions (residents) and volunteers along with organisations and partners such as CRASH, Network Rail, Salix Homes and Urban Vision
Many Emmaus residents have experienced a combination of negative events in their lives, including relationship breakdown, bereavement or job loss. Many will have institutional experience and three quarters will have slept rough at some point in their lives. The majority struggle with alcohol and drug dependencies.
Like other Emmaus communities, Emmaus Salford will provide a stable home, meaningful work and the individual support and training opportunities that residents need to a make lasting change in their lives. All residents will have a personal support plan, which provides them with the holistic support they need to regain control of their lives. This may include counselling, debt advice, medical or dental care and support to overcome addictions. Residents will also have access to education and training to prepare them for employment and independent living.
Emmaus Salford will provide a range of benefits for the local community. Like other Emmaus projects, Emmaus Salford will work closely with referral agencies, day shelters and hostels to provide an effective and sustainable solution for homeless people in the local area. The most significant beneficiaries will be residents of the community, who are vulnerable adults with experience of homelessness. The project will also create a number of permanent jobs and a range of volunteering opportunities for local people. This will help to meet Emmaus’ strategic aims to ensure the project becomes financially robust.
Salford will benefit from the project as the 2012 Social Return on Investment study demonstrated that Emmaus communities generate £11 in social, economic and environmental benefits for every £1 invested. The most significant benefits relate to improvements in residents’ mental and physical health; reductions in offending; reductions in substance misuse and improvements in skills and employability.
There will also be a long term benefit to the local community who will be able to access a source of good quality, affordable second-hand furniture and household goods. An Emmaus community saves around 250 tonnes per year from landfill through reuse and recycling. Communities, through solidarity, offer support to other Emmaus communities and all also give items for free or at very low cost to local people who are in need.
Unfortunately nobody was available to receive the award in person on behalf of either of partners.
Contact details for Award Winners and Sponsors