Action on Empty Homes continues to call for expansion of the Community Housing Fund to provide dedicated funding to support communities to refurbish long-term empty homes and create high quality, well-insulated, affordable homes.

More and more local authorities and community groups want to see community-led action on empty homes. They are downloading our Community Action on Empty Homes Toolkit and exploring ways they can get involved to deliver real and lasting change.

Community Action on Empty Homes has the support of all the main political parties. So far in 2022, we’ve attended the Conservative Party Local Government Conference, the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference and the Labour Party Local Government Conference. We recently attended a Green Party event to talk about community led retrofitting of empty homes. Community led approaches to bringing empty homes into use attracted a lot of interest both as an idea and as a pragmatic option for meeting housing needs, building community resilience and delivering lasting change.  The same cross-party support is there at the local level when we visit communities and local authorities around the country.

The support is there because community action offers five clear benefits:

  1. Real impacts on community health and wellbeing, offering jobs, training and improved housing for local people based on community intelligence and locally agreed priorities.
  2. The modernisation and refurbishment of empty housing to provide low-cost, quality homes for local people, especially for those who may struggle to access social housing.
  3. Locally-led projects that build on the community understanding of how needs can be met in more holistic ways, to enhance overall health and well-being.
  4. Delivery of low-cost housing in existing streets and neighbourhoods, where people want to live and often have existing social ties and networks.
  5. Investment made in communities can be recycled within their localities, through support for local supply chains and local enterprise, by building skills and generating employment, and by supporting and growing community resilience. When locally owned or controlled, the housing assets created offer both a future income stream and an asset base for communities.

Support for community-led solutions and for an increasingly entrepreneurial approach to problem-solving in social delivery has been a consistent theme of, at least, the last four Governments since 2010.

Yet a Government keen to address the housing crisis remains focused primarily on limited market interventions, with too few affordable homes in the mix.  Local councils have increasing duties towards those threatened with homelessness, numbers of homeless households are still on the rise and yet there were 38,000 more long-term empty homes in England in 2021 (238,306) than there were when the last National Empty Homes Programme ended in 2015. Such a waste of a valuable resource.

Communities have shown they can act - see our report ‘Community action on empty homes – Using empty homes to regenerate communities’(AEH:2019).  Community action can turn lives around and build resilient infrastructure founded on delivery of secure affordable homes for local people and a resurgence of community enterprise. 

Don’t know how to get started?

Our Action on Empty Homes Toolkit offers communities and local authorities the tools to work together in harnessing wasted empty homes to deliver real community housing impact.

First published in May 2021 and launched around the country at a series of regional events in York, Manchester and Birmingham in November, our Community Action on Empty Homes Toolkit promotes local resilience, shows how to reach a broader range of funding streams to support local delivery and allows councils and communities to work together to tailor solutions and target delivery to meet local needs.

To get more information about our Community Action Toolkit click here or for support and advice contact Brighid Carey [@]

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