Seven YMCAs are among several charities to have won funding from a £25.8m government fund to bring empty properties back into use.
The successful applicants to the Empty Homes Community Grant Fund have been agreed in principle but are still subject to due diligence checks. The Department for Communities and Local Government will publish the full list of awardees once these checks have been carried out, but said that the winning schemes include seven YMCAs.
A homesteading scheme in Stoke to refurbish terraced housing and a plan to renovate properties to provide accommodation for women at risk of domestic violence are also among the successful bids.
The £25.8m fund accompanies a £60m pot to be shared among 20 local authorities that also submitted ideas for tackling the scourge of empty homes in their vicinities.
The investment of nearly £86m brings the total allocation by the coalition government for making empty homes into liveable properties, to £215m. This latest tranche of funding should ensure that 5,600 more properties are restored to use.
In a statement, the DCLG said: “In some areas, the expertise for returning empty homes into use lies with community groups or voluntary organsiations and that is why a £25.8m grant is being given to innovative schemes around the country that will allow groups to make a real difference where in the past they have often struggled to be involved or raise financing.”
Architect and TV presenter George Clarke, who was recently appointed as the independent empty homes adviser to the government, said: “It’s now up to these organisations to think creatively using new forms of procurement like homesteading, sweat equity and apprenticeship schemes to make every penny stretch as far as possible.”
According to the government, the number of long-term empty homes has fallen to the lowest level since 2004, but 720,000 homes across England still remain unoccupied.