It's been well publicised that the UK is in the midst of a housing shortage, and is in urgent need of projects that not only promote the availability of new homes, but more affordable homes as well. At least 250,000 new homes a year are needed in order to meet rising demand, according to the Financial Times, and a recently announced partnership between the Mayor of London and Big Issue Invest may contribute significantly towards achieving this goal. The focus of their efforts will be old and rundown housing estates.
Recycling old houses
While it's true that there is a shortage of good quality housing, it's also true that there are many empty houses that could be brought up to standard. Carrying out repairs on these buildings and making them as good as new has long been a key objective of the Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson's affordable housing programme. Thanks to these efforts, the proportion of empty homes in London is now at its lowest level since the 1970s. Boris Johnson claims that his GLA housing programmes have resulted in over 5,000 homes being brought back into use.
Now the housing programme is being partnered with Big Issue Invest, an organisation devoted to the fight against poverty. Big Issue Invest is constantly on the lookout for new ways to create employment opportunities, and since 2005 has invested approximately £27 million in over 330 social enterprises throughout the United Kingdom.
Their mission goes hand-in-hand with the government’s efforts to create new housing opportunities. The conversion of old houses into affordable homes requires a lot of planning and construction work, which means more jobs for underprivileged members of the communities in which these reconstruction efforts are taking place.
As such, Boris Johnson has granted Big Issue Invest a £10 million loan that will run over a 10-year period and result in an estimated 400 empty houses being converted into high-quality affordable homes that will be available to rent or buy. The loan will come from the mayor's Housing Covenant programme, which aims to promote the creation of new homes and support any initiatives that result in greater affordability of housing.
In the process, it will provide training and construction work opportunities to unemployed people of all age groups across London. Johnson said of the partnership: “Big Issue Invest are masters of boosting community social enterprise and delivering key employment and training skills to the homeless and unemployed people who need our extra support. This funding sits alongside my affordable home programme which is on track to deliver 100,000 new low cost homes across the city.”
Bringing in more Investors
More homes available at lower prices will go some way towards meeting new housing targets and alleviating the effects of the housing shortage. It will also lead to the rejuvenation of underprivileged areas of London, benefiting communities in those areas and hopefully attracting more investors to the social housing sector.