Community-led housing projects to benefit from £500,000 boost from Nationwide Foundation

Leigh Pearce
Leigh Pearce

Community-led housing projects in Dumfries and Galloway and the Highlands are set to benefit from over £500,000 in funding from the Nationwide Foundation.

The Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust (DGSCHT) and the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) will use the funding to improve organisational infrastructure which will give greater access to support and advice for community-led housing.

The grants have been made as part of the foundation’s “Backing Community-Led Housing” programme.

Using this funding, it is hoped that both HSCHT and DGSCHT will increase the uptake by community groups of the Scottish Government’s £30m Rural Housing Fund, with the ambition that the fund continues and becomes a mainstream source of assistance into the future.

Mike Staples, chief executive officer at the Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust, said: “This funding is a real boost for the Trust and for community development in the south of Scotland. We’re really grateful to the Nationwide Foundation and are looking forward to working closely with them and other funded organisations over the course of the next three years. We are currently making great progress on a number of community-led housing projects across the region and this funding will give us the opportunity to engage with a larger number of communities, whilst making our own approach to support more efficient.”

For twenty years, the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust has focused on rural housing and has adopted a proactive approach to finding solutions. Thanks to the Nationwide Foundation’s support, these initiatives can now be offered in both urban and rural areas. Many people in these communities are disadvantaged by inflated house prices, lower levels of social and private rented properties, higher percentages of empty properties and second homes. HSCHT has developed a range of initiatives to overcome these obstacles through an extensive range or tenure and finance models, which are replicable in urban and rural areas.

Ronnie MacRae, chief executive officer at the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, said: “This valuable support from the Nationwide Foundation will enable us to increase our staff infrastructure and to provide the same community-led initiatives, which we have piloted successfully in the Highlands for two decades, over a wider geographic area.

“Initially we will be focusing on engaging with community groups and key stakeholders. Moving forward, communities can access support to develop new homes using a range of tenures and funding models and will benefit from new pilot initiatives, ensuring the community-led housing becomes a mainstream option.

“We encourage any groups thinking about housing initiatives to get in touch to explore how we may be able to benefit their communities.”

Leigh Pearce, chief executive of the Nationwide Foundation, said: “We envisage a future where community-led housing is thriving and where many more people, especially those in housing need, are living in homes that have been created by the community. Yet, we know that the availability of help can make or break whether a much-needed scheme can get off the ground.

“We want to ensure that community groups wanting to deliver community-led housing can realise their vision and ultimately enable local people to establish settled lives, close to family and employment.”

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