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Latch Housing Project – Leeds

Origins

Latch shop front

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 homeless 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. All tenants and volunteers/workers are shareholders in the organisation (Latch is a Community Benefit Society with Exempt Charitable Status).

Properties/Staff

Latch currently manages or owns 86 properties in the Chapeltown, Burley and Harehills areas of Leeds. It has fifteen members of staff and a turnover of around £700k.

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, 58 properties are owned by Latch and the remaining 28 are leased from partner organisations.

Renovation

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 super-insulating 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.

Occupants

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.
  1. Property Management: maintaining Latch housing, ensuring they are well looked after and meet all relevant standards.
  1. Housing Development: refurbishing newly acquired properties whilst providing employment, training and volunteering opportunities.
Latch work in progress

Latch work in progress

Latch housing

Funding New Housing

Over the years, Latch has been successful in securing grants from a variety of sources, to support its property renovation and development work.

From 2012-15 Latch secured grants of £979k 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.

“This funding made a substantial contribution to the sustainability of LATCH” said James Hartley CEO ”The 15 properties we purchased increased the value of assets held by over 100% to £2.1 million and increased our revenue by 30%. Most importantly it enabled LATCH to meet the needs of more people in housing need and to use its new found financial strength to develop further housing”.

Accordingly since the EHCGP funding came to an end, Latch has continued to acquire and refurbish properties with the help of variety of funders:

This funding also covers the costs of an evaluation of the viability of Latch setting up an enterprise, (Latch Builds) that will offer property development services to other partners in the sector.

Future Prospects

We are well placed and very busy for the next 12-18 months with the projects mentioned above. We are excited about these and look forward to exploring the viability of the Latch Builds venture. Looking a little further ahead we are exploring the option of undertaking a new build project on land we own and will be exploring options for additional partnership working to enhance the work we do to create homes for our clients.

Find out more about Latch http://vimeo.com/78542163 [1]  and watch how they brought a property in East Leeds back into use   https://vimeo.com/128300077 [2]

 Contact:

James Hartley

Chief Executive

James@latch.org.uk [3]

Tel: 0113 2374482.

www.latch.org.uk [4]

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