First published today on the Concerned Co-operators website.
Cheering news from Co-operative and Community Finance, which “provides sympathetic loan finance to help people take control of their economic lives and create social benefit”.
CCF is helping to finance an innovative property refurbishment project in East London by Phoenix Community Housing Co-operative, set up in 1980 and now providing low cost rental accommodation to about 300 people in Hackney and Tower Hamlets.
Loans from the Community Capital Fund and the Co-operative Loan Fund will be used to buy materials and employ two members of staff (site manager and training co-ordinator). Phoenix will then use the rent collected from the new tenants to repay the loans.
The nine studio flats to be refurbished, owned by Poplar Housing Association (HARCA), are in Spey Street, Tower Hamlets. In return HARCA will provide Phoenix with a seven-year lease on the flats and a reduced licence fee.
Similar flats in Spey Street
This is the second project in its Housing Plus scheme set up two years ago, which aims to refurbish disused property, providing affordable homes for people on low incomes and giving training and work experience.
The properties have been empty for nearly 10 years and require a complete refit including new kitchens, bathrooms, damp proofing and heating systems. The work will be done by volunteers from the co-operative and external trainees who are seeking to develop their professional skills and experience.
Carlita McKnight, Housing Plus Development Manager, said: “We expect to provide on the job training in a wide range of practical, construction based skills to at least 30 people over the next six months and at the end of it there will be nine more flats providing good quality accommodation.”