'˜Vital' homes in Portsmouth set to be created by new charity housing trustÂ
VITAL social housing could be created by a new charitable housing trust.
In a pilot scheme Portsmouth City Council could lease two unused properties in North End to a community trust capable who would spendÂ Â£320,000 to make them habitable.
The homes would then be rented out at a low rate to people on the council's housing waiting list.
Although there is the potential to convert the buildings on Angerstein Road into flats, Father Bob White of the newly-formed Portsmouth Community Housing Trust, said they are more likely to be adapted for two families.
Board member Fr Bob, of St Mary's Church in Fratton, said: '˜The idea is that these homes will be for people on the council housing list.
'˜And at the moment we've been told that housing for families is the city's greatest need so that is what we will be seeking to address.'
The buildings were previously used as the home of charity Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service until it moved to in May. Since then the buildings have been empty.
Fr Bob added: 'It is hoped that people who are in need of homes are given more of an opportunity as a result of this.
'We also want to stop families becoming homeless, this is an attempt to break the cycle. We are committed to trying to generate housing in the city of Portsmouth by using properties others couldn't develop.
'There is quite a bit of work to be done to bring the homes up to scratch.'
Funding for the conversion will come from national grants secured by the trust.
Cal Corkery, housing activist, said: '˜It is encouraging to see the council considering this option as community-led housing can play an important role in meeting social needs and addressing the housing crisis.
'˜There is a desperate need for more social housing in Portsmouth so I'm glad that innovative alternatives are being brought forward.
'˜The only concern I have at this stage is around how rents will be set. If rents are based on social rent levels, as is the case in most local council housing, then these properties will provide genuinely affordable homes for local families.
'˜However, if the so-called affordable rent model is used, like most housing association properties, then they are likely to remain unaffordable for many low income households.'
If the homes were sold in their current state it is estimated they would fetch between Â£240,000 and Â£270,000 for both of them on the open market.