Nationwide Foundation invests to create more genuinely affordable homes in Wales

Tir Cyffredin Co-operative's community-led housing in Wales

Over the next three years, the Nationwide Foundation is investing £728,830 in two projects which will help to address major systemic barriers to delivering genuinely affordable homes in Wales.

The Nationwide Foundation is a charitable foundation supporting the development and delivery of genuinely affordable homes in Wales through its decent and affordable homes strategy, which seeks to improve the lives of people who are disadvantaged because of their housing circumstances.

There is a housing emergency in Wales. The recent Shelter Cymru report, The right to adequate housing in Wales, highlighted that in 2021 at least 60,569 households were on housing waiting lists, 3,503 Welsh households were overcrowded and 2,142 homeless households were in temporary accommodation.

Significant barriers to genuinely affordable housing contribute to this crisis, including the difficulty and cost of accessing land and the scarcity of funding and financing for alternative development methods. Grants are being given to Cwmpas to address the issues of support and funding, and to Housing Justice to make more land available for affordable housing.

Bringing forward land for development

The Nationwide Foundation has awarded £320,291 to Housing Justice’s Faith in Affordable Housing programme.

Housing Justice, a registered charity, works on a broad range of projects that seek to address homelessness in all its forms. The Faith in Affordable Housing programme enables churches to use their surplus land and derelict buildings to benefit the community by developing truly affordable housing for people in need. In order to facilitate this, Faith in Affordable Housing pairs faith groups who have vacant land with housing organisations who purchase or lease the land for the development of socially rented homes. The highly experienced team is able to advise and support both parties during this process.

To date, the team has worked with more than 20 housing providers across Wales. Under a new model, Housing Justice has partnered with nine regional housing associations. These have been through a rigorous selection process to ensure they build the highest-quality homes at truly affordable rent levels. This new model ensures that the housing associations that Housing Justice works with understand the difficulties facing churches and are looking to provide a genuine solution for their communities.

This model for releasing land in the heart of communities for social good has proven to be extremely successful.

Bonnie Williams, Housing Justice’s Director for Wales, said, “We’re very grateful to the Nationwide Foundation for their support over the last three years which has helped us to build more than 100 affordable homes across Wales for those that need them most.

“The awarding of this new grant will enable us to continue our innovative work in identifying disused and derelict church land that can be transformed into homes to alleviate the housing crisis in Wales. We’re very much looking forward to moving this programme into its next phase as we move towards a self-financing model.”

ABOVE: Tir Cyffredin Housing Co-operative, Machynlleth, is supported by Cwmpas

Providing expert advice and funding

A grant of £408,539 has been awarded to Cwmpas to extend Communities Creating Homes, which offers a package of support to community-led housing groups in Wales.

The new grant, along with co-funding from the Welsh Government, will allow the scheme to continue until March 2025. In addition to continuing its existing support work and raising awareness of community-led housing as a viable option, Cwmpas also aims to make more finance available for community-led housing. It will test a £3 million capital pilot fund provided by the Welsh Government which will provide straightforward, easy-to-access finance for community-led groups. If this is successful, there is potential for this to become a longer-term revolving loan fund.

Jocelle Lovell, Director of Inclusive Communities at Cwmpas, said: “Co-operative and Community-led housing plays an essential role alongside councils, developers and investors to create affordable homes in Wales which meet local community needs and support future generations. The funding from the Welsh Government and the Nationwide Foundation is critical to building on the excellent progress that has already been made in this area.

“People want to have more control of where they live, and work with others to achieve a shared goal. They like the fact the co-operative and community-led housing model is flexible to meet many needs and any tenure – so the outcomes are often more successful. We know that every project is different – so our support is tailored to the needs of each community. Whether you’re new to co-operative and community-led housing, have already formed a group or want to join an existing group, we want to help.”

Formerly the Wales Co-operative Centre, Cwmpas is a registered society working for social good, with community-led housing forming part of that overall aim. Any community housing group in Wales can access Cwmpas’ support, advice and networking through its Communities Creating Homes scheme, which currently has 653 new community-led homes in its pipeline. 

Tackling the barriers to genuinely affordable housing in Wales

Sam Stewart, head of programmes at the Nationwide Foundation, said, “Together, these two projects address significant barriers to delivering genuinely-affordable housing in Wales.

“Community-led housing can be a workable alternative method for delivering truly affordable housing which, if delivered at scale, would offer a genuine alternative to the standard – and failing – method of delivering affordable homes. The conditions for this to happen are strong in Wales and we believe that Cwmpas’ work, which we have previously funded for several years, will help to realise that aim.

“Acquiring suitable land at an appropriate cost is one of the biggest systemic barriers to creating affordable housing. The Faith in Affordable Housing project by Housing Justice has great potential to have a significant impact on this, using an innovative model to unlock land which can be bought by housing associations without pushing the cost of the resulting housing beyond the genuinely-affordable.”

To keep up to date with the progress of these and other housing projects funded by the Nationwide Foundation, follow @NationwideFdtn on Twitter.