YMCA DownsLink Group’s (YMCA DLG) Empty Homes project brings empty property back into use to provide much needed housing.  The innovative project was recently given national recognition by securing the award for Accommodation Project of the Year at the Youth Matters Awards 2016.

Utilising empty properties is cost effective and contributes to improving communities. YMCA DLG’s Empty Homes programme has seen 170 bed spaces created in Sussex over the past four years. It aims to assist local authorities with managing youth homelessness, and supported housing providers to move-on capable residents, shorten waiting lists at high support projects, as well as offer accessible and affordable housing for young people.

The accommodation project is administered by the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA), whose funding enables YMCA DLG to lease property from private sector landlords by offering capital investment to pay for renovation. In return for this investment, the landlord agrees a minimum five-year lease with YMCA DLG. The local YMCA then uses this accommodation to provide low level supported housing with intensive housing management for single 18 to 35-year-olds and young families.

YMCA DLG provides intensive housing management, mobile night workers, on call access, a dedicated housing worker, regular reviews, and support and understanding. Its Empty Homes scheme is currently running in Worthing, Brighton, Crawley, Horsham, Mid Sussex, and even on a farm! The most successful area of operation has been Hastings, where this scheme has created 80 new bed spaces for young people in housing need.

So far, the Empty Homes scheme has provided housing for more than 200 people.  YMCA DLG plans to increase their housing stock further, as well as bidding for additional funding from the HCA to continue the scheme to 2021.