What does the new Community Housing Fund mean for the support we offer?

The Government announced a new multimillion pound Community Housing Fund in July this year.

The Fund will be managed by Homes England and will come in two phases: phase one opened on 7 July and will help groups to ‘capacity build’ i.e. cover costs during the planning stages and the second phase will be capital grants to pay for the purchase and refurbishment of homes or the construction costs for new homes.

This means that groups of people who want to set up their own community-led housing projects can now apply to Homes England for the kind of capacity-building and pre-development work that BHCLT has been supporting through our Housing Ourselves grants.

In the light of this opportunity, we have paused the grants offered by our local Community-Led Housing Programme until we see the outcome of local groups’ applications to Homes England. We have decided that this makes sense for BHCLT because the Community Housing Fund is nationally available funding and the more groups that apply from Brighton & Hove, the more investment into community-led housing we have the chance of bringing into the city. If we use our small and finite local pot for the same applications, the support in the city will be short-lived: grants and the advice and support we are able to offer through our staff team would end in Autumn 2018. Our goal is to maximise the support available for community-led housing in the city for as long as possible for all groups (present and future).

We have produced an analysis of the prospectus summarising what local people can apply for and distilling the criteria they will need to meet. It is not that different to the expectations we have of applications to our grant fund: projects need to be ‘community-led’ and be formed as a legitimate community organisation (or on the way to being one), have outline business plans/cases, and financial plans and clarity about what you aim to do and who will live in the homes.

You can apply for very small sums (for example, to incorporate) or much larger sums, if you have a viable financial plan & have secured a viable interest in a property or site. If you need it, members of our team can support you to apply to this fund and we will be running some face to face advice sessions to provide support.

To find out more or get some support with your application to the Community Housing Fund contact our Programme Manager Andrea Jones in the first instance on admin[at]bhclt.org.uk.

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