We are happy to report that the Community Housing Fund has now been launched after much discussion between Government and the CCH alongside other national community-led housing organisations. The Community Housing Fund perhaps represents the best opportunity to develop the co-operative and community-led housing sector since the 1980s. It will provide an annual budget of £60m (£163m until 2020, with a commitment to provide more beyond then dependent on take up). This funding will enable grassroots ‘start-up’ groups, existing community-based organisations (including co-ops), and community housing enablers to develop new community-led homes. In launching the fund, James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, identified housing as the Government’s number one policy area.
“Community-led” means just that. It means that, whilst communities do not have to initiate developments, there has to be meaningful community engagement and consent throughout; that a local community organisation owns, manages or stewards the homes in a manner of their choosing; and that the benefits to the local area or community are clearly defined. Our housing co-operative and other members can clearly fit this definition and we are hoping that some will consider applying for funding to build or develop new homes from the fund. We also look to our partner local authorities, housing associations and others to explore how they can generate community-led housing through the fund.
The fund is paying for
- revenue support (grants) to develop projects and achieve planning consent
- capital support (grants) for infrastructure such as access, remediation and utilities
- capital support (grants and loans) for buying sites and development
- revenue support (grants) for national infrastructure that the CCH and the other national community-led housing organisations are developing (including training and accreditation for people who will provide advice and support locally, movement building and online resources)
- revenue support (grants) for enabler hubs, local organisations that will be able to provide advice locally to help people and organisations develop new housing projects
- revenue support (contracts) for evaluation and research
The prospectus for funding applications and bidding guidance is here. We will keep you in touch with the various parts of the programme as they develop. For now – we would urge all our housing co-op and other members, as well as our various partner organisations, to give thought to how they might be able to use the Community Housing Fund to build or develop new co-operative and community-led homes.
The MHCLG launch announcement is here.