Program: A homelessness prevention scheme with a focus on genuine rental affordability and creating effective spaces using limited resources. It includes 12 apartments and 36 houses. It has been designed to meet the needs of a people who otherwise would find difficult to access affordable homes.
Addressing a Hidden Issue
There is a whole sofa-surfing generation out there, that might not meet the accepted criteria of being, in effect, homeless, but who are nonetheless starved of stability.
The view of the issue from the Crisis perspective is that sofa-surfing is neither temporary nor a stepping-stone between homes. Instead, it is becoming a chronic, permanent state for too many people.
Affordability and Community
With the Haddon Road, the brief was to create homes that would be genuinely affordable. We began with the concept of a low-cost unit, but one where the scheme’s rent would cover everything, including bills and utilities, such as wi-fi.
The solution was to repurpose an existing site. This site was where there were small garages fallen into disuse. The registered providers had this resource, but had no idea of what they could do with it.
A potential advantage this site had was that it was already situated in the middle of an existing community.
Creating a Sense of Place
By repurposing this garage site, we were aiming to also bring this area back into the community, instead of it attracting fly-tipping or other anti-social behaviour.
As it stood, the site had a negligible sense of place, but the objective was to design units that would enable their occupants to integrate into the surrounding community.
Eccles is among the 20 per cent of most deprived areas in the country. But at the same time, the community is a tight-knit one.
This is its true value, and this is the value we wanted the development to add to. Because the site pre-development was essentially unused, and the housing association had no plans for it, the new units can breathe fresh life into it.
Meeting the Need
There are always obstacles to overcome in developing under-utilised housing association land. Existing residents can be suspicious, or even hostile, at consultation stage.
The challenge is to communicate the genuine benefits this type of development will offer both end-users and the community that already exists. And for these end-users, it’s a big first step: closing their own front door for the first time, or ending years of precariousness and sofa-surfing. The housing association will also support them by offering employment and training programmes.
The development can therefore be a stepping stone for them, towards housing that meets general needs.