Accepting the challenge – first grant awarded for genuinely affordable housing
The first grant from a Hackney Council fund to kick-start genuinely affordable housebuilding will increase the social housing provided at a new Hackney Central development.
Seven homes under construction behind St John at Hackney Church on Lower Clapton Road, earmarked for near market rent levels, will now be for a much lower social rent after the Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association was awarded more than £500,000 to support its ambition to offer tenants a more affordable option.
The grant is part of the £16 million Mayor of Hackney’s Housing Challenge fund – money made up from Council homes sold under the Government’s Right to Buy scheme – which is granted to housing associations to help them build more homes for social or living rent.
The homes that will be managed by the housing association are part of a wider project by developer Thornsett to provide a new community centre and help fund the major restoration of the historic Grade II*-listed church.
Rising land values and changes in Government policy mean that without Council support, fewer than 300 new properties are expected to be built by housing associations in the borough in the next two years – a 90% drop since 2011.
It’s vital that we get all parts of the housing market building genuinely affordable homes for local people if we are to make Hackney a place that works for everyone.
The Council is playing its part by building thousands of new homes, and I’m delighted that housing associations are now taking up my challenge to ensure our borough stays somewhere that people of different backgrounds and incomes call home.
Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association are locally based, share our values and have set a fantastic example of how working in partnership with the Council can deliver the social housing that is at the heart of all of our work.
We’re delighted to receive such significant funding from the Mayor of Hackney’s Housing Challenge fund. This supports us in our ambition to meet future housing needs in one of our core neighbourhoods at rents which are truly affordable.
Cash from sales under Right to Buy – the Government’s policy of allowing council tenants to buy their home at a discount – is usually reinvested in Council housebuilding programmes wherever possible.
But arbitrary restrictions placed on local authorities by ministers mean the money must be spent within three years of a sale and can only pay for 30% of a new home – leaving councils to fund the remainder of the cost. Often this makes it very difficult for councils to spend the money in reality, and after three years the government takes it off them with interest to use for itself.
To try and ensure this money actually benefits Hackney residents, the Mayor of Hackney’s Housing Challenge will make this money available to housing associations to fund homes for social rent and living rent being delivered by March 2020, instead of being forced to hand it to the government.
The Mayor of Hackney’s Housing Challenge is open to applications. For more information, visit the Regeneration webpage.