Latch Housing Project – Leeds
Latch (Leeds Action To Create Homes Ltd) was established in 1989 and brings empty and run down homes back into use. It refurbishes the houses with unemployed volunteers, helping them to gain skills, confidence and work experience. When the homes are fully modernised, they provide supported housing for people who are homeles or in housing need.
LATCH works with other local organisations and aims to help regenerate the neighbourhoods in which it works by providing both housing and support, while at the same time building the confidence and skills of tenants and volunteers so that they can move on to lead independent lives.
Latch currently manages or owns 64 properties in the Chapeltown, Burley and Harehills areas of Leeds. It has thirteen members of staff and a turnover of around £500 000.
Latch started out renovating disused properties obtained at low cost or on loan from their owners (such as the city council and friendly housing associations). Currently, 29 properties are owned by Latch and the remaining 35 are leased from partner organisations.
The staff team has a wide range of construction related skills and experience of working with volunteers and trainees. Contractors are used when required e.g. for gas and electrical works.
Latch has developed expertise in superinsulating its homes, fitting high spec underfloor, wall and loft insulation, along with airtightness measures, to make its old Victorian housing warm and substantially reduce fuel bills.
Latch houses single people and families who are homeless or in housing need, and need support to enable them to set up and sustain their tenancies e.g. women fleeing domestic violence, ex-offenders, people with mental health, drug or alcohol problems.
Current Activities: Latch activity is focused around three services:
1. Supported Housing: Supporting tenants to move in to their homes and to have successful tenancies.
2. Property Management: maintaining Latch housing, ensuring they are well looked after and meet all relevant standards.
3. Housing Development: refurbishing newly acquired properties whilst providing employment, training and volunteering opportunities.
Over the years, Latch has been successful in securing grants from a variety of sources, to support property renovation and development work. From 2012-15 Latch secured grants of £979 059 through the DCLG Empty Homes Community Grants Programme to purchase and refurbish 15 empty properties, housing 39 adults and children. The Ecology Building Society provided loan finance to supplement this grant funding.
The Property Management service is funded through rental income and the Supported Housing service is partly funded by rental income and partly by a contract with Leeds City Council.
“The funding has had made a substantial contribution to the sustainability of LATCH. The 15 properties we have purchased have increased the value of assets held by over 100% to £2.1 million and increased revenue by 30%. Most importantly this has enabled LATCH to continue to improve service quality and provide services to more people”.