Below is an outline document for making a pitch to owners to borrow their properties or approaching funders for money. You can also download this proposal as a word document  into which you can insert your own text and create a proposal for your project.
Self Help Housing Project Proposal
XYZ Housing Project
Proposal For A Community Driven Housing Initiative
2. Overview Of The Proposed Project
7. Request For Assistance
– Details of The Organisation/Project Members
– Projected Scheme Costs/Funding
Depending on the circumstances this might be a proposal to funders, or to the owners of some empty properties you want to borrow, or just a document setting out what you want to achieve. Either way, you’ll need to tailor the content to the audience.
Also, there’s no need to use all these individual headings – although it would be a good idea to cover these issues somewhere in the text.
None of these sections need to be very long – it’s not an exam! You just need to cover the various topics to show that you’ve thought out your proposal and you know what you want to do.
This section needs to set out the need for the project and perhaps the various benefits that it will bring. For instance:
- How it will provide more housing and for whom
- How it will improve the neighbourhood
- How will generate income for the owners/ the local authority (possibly via rental income and/or community charge payments)
- How it will reduce expenditure on dealing with vandalism
Use the above section, to flag up the benefits of what you’re proposing.
2. Overview Of The Proposed Project To Provide Housing
This section provides an overview of what in being proposed
- Who will be running the project – details of your organisation
(You might be a new organisation which is being set up specifically to provide housing in this way, or an existing organisation which is going to do this alongside its other work. Either way, explain the position and say something about how you’re organised and who is involved -if you want to, you can use an annex at the end to go into this in more detail)
- Who will be housed (the sorts of people who will be helped e.g. single people, young people, families, refugees etc)
- Which properties will be used/who are the owners
(If you’re still trying to find properties, then say where you’re looking and where you hope to get them from)
- Who will carry out the repairs – or whatever work is needed
(This could be small local contractors, the people who are going to occupy the properties themselves, volunteers, or a combination. A lot will depend on that state of the properties and the money available.)
- Who will provide day-to-day management of the properties
(This will probably be yourselves or maybe even the people living in the properties)
If you’re trying to get someone (eg the property owners) to take a risk on going ahead with new and untried project, then it might be a good idea to describe it as “a pilot project” This way you’re saying that it’s an experiment and which means that you’ll be learning from the experience in setting it up and running it. That way you don’t need to have all the answers at the beginning!
There may be more than one organisation involved in the project, in which case it’s good to explain who they are and what they will be doing to help. Partners might be used:
- To help with getting funding (this might be a local charity)
- To help you with carrying out any repairs (this could be a local housing association)
- To help with providing training to project members or the workforce
- To help with managing the properties
Each situation is different and so there may or may not be other partners. However if there are, then it’s worth giving some details since it may well make the people to whom you are addressing the proposal feel more confident about your ability to succeed.
Here you need to provide details of the properties that you aim to use. If possible, it’s good to give some details relating to :
- The owners
- The location
- Their condition &
- Any negotiations you’ve had about the terms on which you might be able to borrow them.
However. If you haven’t any specific properties in mind and are, or are still in trying to find some (via a local authority or perhaps a housing association), then just talk about the sorts of properties that you hope to use.
Some projects use volunteers to do some of the repairs and may even use repairing the properties as an opportunity to train people in basic building and construction skills. If you plan to go down this route then it’s worth setting out:
- What you propose to do &
- How you’ll do it.
There are quite a few projects that do this and you can find details of some of them on the self-help-housing.org website under the case studies section. If you want to know more about this area of activity, then talk to the projects themselves
This covers how it is intended to fund the project. This could cover:
- The cost of works required to bring the property or properties into use
- The cost of running the project
It’s likely that you won’t yet have all the answers to these questions and so you may want to simply deal with funding under the section dealing with the project as a whole. It may not be a good idea to have a separate section like this, if you’re not able to provide much detail.
7. Request For Assistance
In this section you need to set out what action/help you need in order to take the project forward. What you put depends on who you are addressing. You could be asking for:
– use of vacant properties
– funding for their repair
– money for your running costs
– help in kind or
– a combination of the above
- Just because you haven’t got all the answers, don’t put off writing up a proposal like this. You may need to set out the idea, in order to get people to respond!
- You can produce more than one version of your proposal depending on your audience. You might want to say things slightly differently to a funder or to a property owners
Possible Annexes – only include these if you feel it will help in making your case
– Details of The Organisation Wanting To Set Up The Project
– Projected Scheme Costs/Funding
Further Help & Information
Look at the “How It’s Done” section on www.self-help-housing.org  website for briefing documents on:
– Setting Up A Project
– Getting Hold of Property
– Funding Repairs & Project Costs
– Organising Repairs
– Using A Volunteer Workforce
– Agreements With Owners & Occupiers
– On-Site Training Opportunities