Kelly Ferns, Argyll and Bute EHO talks about how data was the key in this groundbreaking project.
Argyll and Bute (A&B) is a large area geographically, broken down to nine Housing Market Areas (HMA). There are succinct variations between the HMAs that include a wide mix of urban, rural, and island communities. Therefore the impact of empty homes can have different consequences depending on their location, size, condition and other factors.
Data on empty homes is fundamental for an EHO to investigate the circumstances, as it is crucial for understanding the local context and impacts. However, it is equally important for the EHO to have an awareness and understanding of where the housing pressures are, particularly when there is high need and demand for housing.
Over the last few years we had seen a noticeable increase in the number of enquiries from individuals and strategic partners regarding affordable housing for key/essential workers particularly from A&B Health & Social Care Partnership (A&B HSCP) colleagues. There are a number of local studies that correlated the increase of enquiries and need for affordable housing to recruit and retain staff to support local services.
A strategic partnership project with SEHP was proposed as an option to help address the demand received from A&B HSCP. It will do this by providing homes for a sector of the economy where affordable housing is much needed and to bring empty homes back to use. To inform the proposal a range of data was collated including statistical data on empty homes, ineffective stock and the identified housing need across the A&B area.
Over the next few months, following further engagement with SEHP and a positive response from co-ordinated discussions with senior housing and A&B HSCP colleagues, a project proposal for strategic partnership funding of an Empty Homes Project Officer (EHPO) post was put forward.
The focus of the proposal was to develop a model where the officer would specifically work with empty homes owners to bring accommodation back into use for key health and social care workers who help to sustain and deliver local services.
This is an example of where we were able to use data to help inform a specific project which will not only meet a number of the Council’s strategic priorities but also those of our partners. It will also help to meet the needs of our local communities.
This strategic and innovative project will help bring empty homes back into use with a specific focus on reducing housing need and providing more affordable homes for key workers.