A joint initiative announced, set up by the Empty Homes, Ecology Building Society, the government and thirty-nine local authorities, aim to ensure that the ever increasing demand for houses may be met by rejuvenating current empty properties. It is a scheme designed with the purpose of using current resources to solve the property shortage, as well as creating a sustainable future. The war time phrase ‘make do and mend’, referring to the necessity to manage with whatever is available, may be as applicable in today’s housing shortage as it may have been during the 1940s.
The National Empty Homes Loan Fund, set up as part of the scheme, has been granted £3 million from parliament that aims to enable it to provide loans to those over eighteen who own properties that have been empty for over six months. Participants may be able to borrow between £5,000 and £10,000, and the money is designed to be used to renovate empty homes and raise them to a standard that is liveable. It seems to be believed that these grants may ensure that those who are seeking housing may be able to find it; the ever-growing population may be housed through initiatives such as these through taking existing structures instead of building masses of new properties
It seems to believe that renovating empty houses may ensure that wealth is brought to the area through new habitants and in turn more consumers. The scheme has the primary aim of making some of England’s 710,000 empty homes inhabitable, however the benefits of renovation extend past creating new homes. Whole Areas, as well as individual houses, now seem to have the ability to be rejuvenated alongside promoting economic growth.
The loan is for a maximum of five years, giving home owners sufficient time to undertake the work needed on key areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, double glazed windows/doors and plumbing work. The houses are then designed to be loaned, once they reach the Decent Homes standard imposed by the government, to those who are in need, showing how the scheme is a step forward in securing a future where housing shortages are scarcely existent.
David Ireland OBE, Chief Executive of Empty Homes, stated that “We hope the fund will enable hundreds of empty homes to be brought back up to standard and back into the housing stock.”
The plan is that rather than undertaking new building work in order to provide homes to the population, resources that are already available are being used. It is a demonstration of sustainable thinking that is both environmentally friendly and a solution to a social issue that the government faces. Many organisations are working together to ensure the scheme is a success, shows the extent of conviction placed in it, especially considering it is the first of its kind in England. The government aims to cooperate with both the public and private sectors in an effort to stabilise the British economy through providing a form of revitalisation for the housing market.
How might recycling of properties improve the housing shortage?