Published on Monday, 15th January 2018

 

I attended an interesting meeting last week at North End Baptist Church.

Hope into Action is a church-led homeless programme in which parishioners finance housing and church social groups provide support. It started in East Anglia and now has over 200 houses nationwide. There is going to be an attempt to bring it to Portsmouth.

 

Their business model is to buy houses using money that would otherwise be tied up in low-interest rate accounts. Members of the congregation agree to pay for a slice of a property, so, for example, five people could put in £50,000 each. At the end of a five year period, they can sell their share in proportion to whatever the house is now worth and during the five years they are guaranteed a two percent annual return on their investment – so, in this case, £1000 a year.

 

This was an initial meeting and I have no idea what will come from it, but it is an example of thinking outside the box. From the perspective of the City Council, any projects like this are welcome and we’d be very happy to have a full discussion about move-on housing: these homeless placements only last for two years.

 

As an aside, one of the big barriers to housing single people is the social housing stock, most of which is over 40 years old and was built with families in mind. The City Council owns very few small units and while housing associations have more, many are careful who they allow as tenants in order to minimise the risk of rent arrears.

 

Tags: Homelessness