Unemployed people given homes lifeline
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Monday, August 01, 2011
UNEMPLOYED people in need of accommodation are being given a lifeline by the East Marsh Community Trust – through a project which is thought to be the only one in the country.
The charity, which aims to relieve poverty, hardship and distress among people and households in North East Lincolnshire, has renovated three "void" properties in Guildford Street in Grimsby, turning them into perfect family homes.
STREETS AHEAD: At the launch of the Community Homes project on Guildford Street are Councillor Chris Shaw; John Harrison; Sylvia Moss; Catherine Hall, Home Shop manager; Muriel Barker, trustee; Councillor Jon-Paul Howarth; Councillor Mick Burnett; Ann-Marie Webster, service manager for community advice; and Ian Oliver and Chris Wood, of BCJ Developments. Picture: Rick Byrne
The Trust will rent them out to unemployed tenants for £95 per week, which would be covered by housing benefits, with no deposit needing to be paid.
In return, the residents will be trained and assisted to take responsibility in:
Garden maintenance of public areas within the ward.
Maintaining their own homes.
Maintaining public areas (as part of a local area agreement with all residents of Community Homes).
Volunteering for a department of East Marsh Community Trust.
Gaining work experience and NVQ qualifications.
Accessing CV writing and job search assistance.
Accessing community advice services (financial inclusion, welfare and debt management).
The plan is to help tenants back into employment and they are encouraged to play a full role in society.
East Marsh Community Trust, said there are about 2,400 void properties in the town and he hopes the Community Homes project can be rolled out across the borough.
We recognised the new home zone being created in Guildford Street by the council and thought it was the perfect opportunity.
"We need to make the investment in infrastructure sustainable by investing in people. One of the properties we took on was absolutely burnt out. We got loans and mortgages and spent about £20,000 renovating a two-bedroom house and two three-bed homes. They are all worth about £55,000."
Any extra money made from the project will be pumped into social enterprises, providing full-time jobs for tenants.
Sylvia Moss, co-chair of the East Marsh Community Trust, said she was "very proud" of what they have achieved.
She said: "There will be a waiting list when we take on more properties and the homes will mean people can start afresh. We've already had quite a lot of interest."
The homes are unfurnished, although local furniture recycling organisation Community Chest, under the umbrella of the trust, will offer deals to tenants on furniture which can be paid for on a weekly basis. The first tenant is expected to move in within the next few weeks.
Chris Shaw, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said: "We need to help with schemes like this, it's really important for the people of North East Lincolnshire."
Councillor Mick Burnett, deputy leader, added: "This is a really worthwhile project and the Trust has made a massive difference to homes that were previously not even habitable.
"There will be certain criteria they have to meet, so there will be nobody getting a home and not trying to find work.
"It's a brilliant idea and may be the push people need to gain employment."
John Harrison, chair of East Marsh Involve and trustee of the East Marsh Community Trust, has lived on Guildford Street for 33 years.
He explained many years ago the houses were mostly owned by fisherman's families, before private landlords came in and the area "sky dived".
He said: "It was very bad at one point and you wouldn't leave your door open. Since they started carrying out the renovation work it has got a lot better and this scheme can only add to that."
To find out how to sign up for a property within the Community Homes project, call 01472 240256, or visit www.emct.org.uk for more information.
Keep reading your Grimsby Telegraph to find out more about the new tenants.