The Nationwide Foundation has enabled 26 empty properties in Leeds to be transformed into decent, affordable homes for people in need, in the last 18 months. The Nationwide Foundation gave grants to three organisations in the city (Canopy Housing, Latch and Gipsil) to turn these empty properties into homes.
The 67 people who have become the new residents of these properties were previously homeless or in severe housing need. The Nationwide Foundation is pleased to have been able to help fund the dramatic improvements to their lives and circumstances.
Across Leeds, more than 150 people – many of whom were unemployed – helped to renovate the 26 empty homes. They have learnt new skills and built their confidence, and this has often led to new career opportunities.
The UK has over 200,000 properties which have been empty for over six months, and many of which are boarded-up and decaying. These homes not only are a huge waste of potential living space when demand for affordable housing is so high, but as the properties decline, they can attract social problems and cause issues for the neighbourhoods.
One of the organisations receiving funding from the Nationwide Foundation is Latch, which is currently transforming an empty property in Leeds. The property will be finished in the next few weeks and a tenant will move in soon afterwards. Prior to Latch taking on the terraced property, it had been abandoned for more than eight years and was in an extremely dilapidated state, suffering from excessive damp and internal collapse: both an eyesore to the street and a potential danger to adjoining properties.
In many cases, the organisations provide additional support to help people get their lives back on track. Here’s Steve’s story:
When Steve split up with his partner, he went off the rails and began offending and taking drugs. Desperately seeking a fresh start, he walked from Blackpool to Leeds and started selling the Big Issue. His support worker introduced him to Latch, where he attended a joinery course in Latch’s training workshop. Steve then wanted to gain practical experience and so began volunteering on the empty home refurbishment projects. Steve is now self-employed and he is acquiring further skills at the local building college. Most importantly for him, now that he is settled and has turned his life around, he has been able to see his son for the first time in five years.
This funding by the Nationwide Foundation is part of its Decent Affordable Homes strategy, which has the vision for everyone in the UK to have access to a decent home that they can afford. The Foundation is an independent charitable funder and its grants to the three Leeds organisations totalled over £250,000.