New public-private coalition to tackle homelessness

Housing charity Habitat for Humanity GB and investment company M&G are heading a coalition including Lloyd’s of London and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

The Empty Spaces Coalition is seeking to find and pilot solutions within the built environment to address critical housing shortages which lead to homelessness across Europe.

The coalition brings together businesses and organisations from the public and the private sector with the aim to unlock vacant, unused spaces that can be added to the supply of housing. Providing decent accommodation to those in need helps to nurture stabilised environments in poorer areas so that people can grow and reconnect with society.

The coalition aims to relieve homelessness through various measures, including converting empty and vacant spaces of little commercial interest to property developers or local governments into good quality accommodation for vulnerable communities facing homelessness and galvanising investment from the local private sector and other donors to support the funding of these conversions.

Tum Kazunga, CEO at Habitat for Humanity, said: “This coalition will be a huge step in our fight against housing poverty in the UK and across Europe. This is an issue that has been exacerbated by the economic impact of COVID-19 resulting in a high number of job losses, loss in income and an inability to rent.”

Earlier this year, Habitat and Humanity GB and M&G released a research paper highlighting that vacant commercial premises in the UK could provide up to 200,000 homes for the vulnerable. The research revealed that circa 19,500 homes could be created in the UK from vacant local authority owned space and a further 165,000 empty privately-owned commercial and business premises could also create additional housing supply.

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