Empty Homes Community Action Partnerships

by Brighid Carey, Consultancy and Projects Manager

We are developing a new collaborative approach to bringing empty homes into use – led by communities working in partnership with a range of stakeholders and with empty homeowners to deliver affordable housing for local people. These are Empty Homes Community Action Partnerships: EHCAP’s.


We are currently working with communities and other partners, and with the local council and members, in Reading, Berkshire to develop a Reading EHCAP. We were initially approached by a Reading resident, representing an informal community group concerned about homes standing empty when so many households were either homeless or in urgent need of decent housing. Reading has become our pilot to trial the EHCAP approach.


Why use a collaborative approach?


EHCAP’s recognise that empty homes affect everyone, there are multiple stakeholders. These include local residents and neighbouring homeowners, people in housing need who see homes standing empty, fire and police services called out to tackle arson, anti-social behaviour and crime at empty homes, and local authority Public Protection and Planning teams in receipt of complaints, investigating individual properties and preparing enforcement action.


EHCAP’s are particularly valuable in areas with concentrations of empty homes. By working together and offering multi-agency support to renovate and bring properties into use, it’s possible to build momentum for action, enabling empty homeowners to develop conversations with local people about how their property may be of help, seek practical advice and to see for themselves how empty homes can be effectively renovated and returned to use.


Many people and agencies are concerned about and impacted by empty homes, lending a broad base for action.  By working together with diverse stakeholders, the renovation of empty homes can become a vehicle for delivering wider community benefits. In addition to providing homes for local people, the renovation process itself can offer opportunities for work experience and on-site training. Looking at an area ‘in the round’ can lead to wider improvements - in the environment, to the street scene and to local amenities, enhancing community life and supporting economic regeneration.


We’re at the early stage with the Reading EHCAP pilot and will keep you updated with progress.