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What is…community-led housing?

Communities can play an active role in solving local housing problems. Community-led housing (ClH) schemes (when residents organise to look at housing issues in their local area) explore the needs of their community, covering issues such as a lack of starter homes for people to buy, too many empty properties, or not enough affordable homes to rent.

ClH schemes come in many different forms. There is no standard, off-the-shelf approach, but initiatives can include:

  • Community Land Trusts: affordable homes for rent or shared ownership by acquiring land and holding it as a community asset in perpetuity;
  • Housing co-operatives: groups of people who provide and collectively manage affordable homes for themselves as tenants or shared owners;
  • Cohousing schemes: residents come together to provide self-contained, private homes for themselves but manage their scheme together and share activities;
  • Tenant management organisations: provide social housing tenants with collective responsibility for managing and maintaining their homes in agreement with the landlord;
  • Self-help housing projects: small, community-based organisations bring empty properties back into use – usually without mainstream funding and an emphasis on construction skills training and support;
  • Community self-build schemes: groups of local people building homes for themselves with external support and managing the process collectively.

While there are overlaps between these different approaches, ClH schemes share five main features:

  • NOT for profit;
  • small scale - most schemes are under 20-25 homes;
  • set up and run by local people with support from housing associations, local authorities, and/or regional/national support organisations;
  • provide genuinely affordable homes for rent, shared ownership, or sale on sites that are difficult for mainstream housing providers to develop;
  • meet long-term local housing needs - the community retains legal and/or financial interest in the homes and ensure they are available to the local people who need them.

Do they work?

Check out the successful project in Sunderland