Properties standing empty and dilapidated in Bristol have been brought back to life to provide badly-needed homes for refugees in the city.
Described as a ‘life transforming project’, the innovative solution to safeguard buildings and meet accommodation needs has seen social enterprise Ashley Community Housing (ACH) pay for extensive renovations in exchange for peppercorn rent.
A number of future tenants worked on the three council-owned properties, enabling them to gain skills that can boost employment opportunities in the construction sector.
Bristol City Council has granted ACH 10-year leases at peppercorn rents as part of a wider bid to bring empty buildings back into use and combat the growing housing crisis.
“I feel very privileged to have been involved in such a life transforming project, which has had a huge impact on peoples’ lives,” says Saed Mohammed, ACH’s property manager.
The three fully renovated properties will be used to house five tenants and enable the resettlement of 40 refugees over the next ten years.
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ACH is keen to work with other partners in the same way, to minimise empty houses in the city and help house the refugees on their waiting list.
“Having houses sat empty is a tragic waste when the city is in the middle of a housing crisis and we have to do all we can to reduce the amount of time properties stand empty,” says Paul Smith, cabinet member for housing.
“Our door is open to anyone who wants to work with us, and we are always looking for innovative schemes like this, to allow us to find a good use for properties that we are not able to use for our own housing stock.”