Why I’m involved with Leeds Community Homes – Rob Greenland

Posted by Rob Greenland.

Over the next couple of months we’ll aim to answer questions that people have asked us – on social media, at events we’ve attended etc.  If you have a question, please get in touch and we’ll answer it on here.

It’s important, if you’re considering investing, that you don’t rely on information we share in these blogposts. If you’re considering investing, please visit either our Ethex profile, or the share offer page on our website.  There you will find detailed information on the share offer, our plans, our more detailed business plan, and the Rules of Leeds Community Homes.  And of course, if you have any questions, please get in touch with us.

 

As our community share offer draws to a close – and the hard work to create People Powered Homes really begins, some of Leeds Community Homes founder members share a personal perspective on why they got involved – and what their hopes are for the years ahead.  First up…. Rob Greenland.

 

I’ve worked in social enterprise pretty much all my working life – including working at a fairtrade co-op in Leeds and working for organisations that helped people to set up social enterprises.  In 2010, with my friend and fellow social entrepreneur Gill Coupland (who’s also involved in Leeds Community Homes) I set up Social Business Brokers – a Community Interest Company that aims to come up with creative, collaborative solutions to complex social problems.

That’s how I first got involved in housing.  In 2012 we decided that we’d explore what we could do to help to reduce the number of empty homes in Leeds.  To cut a long story short, we developed a service called Empty Homes Doctor – and after piloting it for six months, we secured a contract with Leeds City Council to work alongside their Empty Homes team, to support people who own an empty home to bring it back into use.  4 years on, we’ve helped to bring over 200 long-term empty properties in our city back into use.

 

A Leeds empty home, lived in once more from Empty Homes Doctor on Vimeo.

 

Once you get involved in tackling a social issue, you become aware of all sorts of other issues and problems.  And it’s obvious to pretty much everyone that our housing market isn’t working for many people in our country.  It’s increasingly hard to find decent, affordable homes to rent or buy – and young people in particular struggle in a market that is increasingly dominated by people who are buying property as an investment.  Alongside that for years we haven’t built enough homes, and we certainly haven’t built enough affordable homes.  And many of the affordable homes we have got – council homes – are being sold off under Right To Buy.

So we’re in a situation where many of us find that one of our most basic needs – a decent place to call home – is denied to us.  I’m lucky – I have a house my family are happy in (and are slowly paying for) – but many people in our city aren’t in such a fortunate position.

And that’s why I wanted to get involved in Leeds Community Homes.  I believe we need what you might call a “citizen-led movement” to build homes in Leeds.  A group of people taking a socially entrepreneurial approach to housebuilding.  Finding ways to build more affordably – and to find the finance we need – for example through community share offers.  Engaging local people so that they welcome a Leeds Community Homes development into their neighbourhood – partly because they’ve played a part in developing the idea.

I’m really excited about the potential for Leeds Community Homes to make a difference in our city.  As Catherine Harrington from the Community Land Trust network suggests in this Guardian article, Community Land Trusts are developing into a form of resistance movement.

I think that’s what we need –  a movement – people committed to working together to do things differently.   Our first project gives us a real opportunity to house people in affordable high quality homes – whilst also providing us with a starting point on an exciting, ambitious journey.  I hope you can join us on the journey.

 

 

Leeds Community Homes – creating People Powered Homes in Leeds from Leeds Community Homes on Vimeo.

 

It’s important, if you’re considering investing, that you don’t rely on information we share in these blogposts. If you’re considering investing, please visit either our Ethex profile, or the share offer page on our website.  There you will find detailed information on the share offer, our plans, our more detailed business plan, and the Rules of Leeds Community Homes.  And of course, if you have any questions, please get in touch with us.