WITH solving the country’s housing crisis and providing much-needed homes for first time buyers high on every political party’s election manifesto, a Liverpool scheme that’s doing just that is rapidly nearing its end.
Time’s running out for would-be home owners to save £10,000 on the cost of a new home in return for spending 500 hours working on site to help build their home and that of their neighbours.
Only 11 properties are unspoken for and the award winning charity behind the scheme - Housing People, Building Communities - has put out a call for would-be home partners to come forward before it’s too late.
Liza Parry, HPBC chief executive, said: “We’re working in partnership with Sanctuary Group to deliver the remaining homes and the site is due to be completed this autumn. As a result, there’s limited time left for home partners to fulfil their 500 hours of what we call ‘sweat equity’. As well as allowing people to exchange their time for cash, this unique approach also enables them to learn new skills and helps to develop a sense of community long before they move into their home.”
Among those who’ve already benefitted are social worker Joyce Msiska, who’s lived in Liverpool for 20 years, and said: “The idea that I could use the only thing I have – my energy – as a resource, that my own ‘sweat equity’ could get me a stake in my own home, was a godsend. I work hard but have not been able to save enough for a deposit, but because of this scheme I will now be able to own my own home and improve my life and that of my family.”
And Florence Obiaju, who’s lived in Liverpool for the last 11 years, said: “Sweat equity is the most advantageous thing, working alongside people who will form this community. I’ve learned a lot of skills – now I know the layout of the house, I will feel more confident about getting work done in the future.”
Meanwhile, one of the newest home partners, Kieran Bohan, is looking forward to starting work on his new home and has already begun helping out with his neighbours’ houses.
Youth worker Kieran said: "When I moved to Liverpool 12 years ago to do a course and start a new career, it would have been a great time to get a mortgage but as a student I couldn't do it. Since then Liverpool has boomed and so have the property prices, but our salaries haven't. This is the best chance we have of getting a house and we can really take ownership of our own home and neighbourhood by working together to build it."
HPBC’s three-bedroom homes off Kingsley Road, in the city’s Granby-Toxteth district, are competitively priced at £118,000 for a mid-terrace and £122,000 for an end-terrace. There’s even the option to add a fourth bedroom in the loft space at the time of construction.
Would-be home partners should live or work in the Liverpool area or have strong family connections with the area. They must be willing and able to give 500 hours of their time towards creating a unique community and they must be in a financial position to obtain a mortgage. Shared ownership mortgages are available, with housing association Sanctuary Group collecting a 2.75% annual rent (charged monthly) on any residual equity in the property.
“Some applicants are apprehensive about committing to 500 hours of physical labour but we work with them to schedule their time and, once we explain that the hours can be shared with their family and friends, they soon realise that it’s achievable, especially as the site is open six days a week, “ Liza explained. “And for those who physically can’t work on site, perhaps because of a medical problem, we do offer alternatives including assisting the charity with administration, marketing or IT support.”