Canopy in Leeds provides a self-help housing option for homeless people A new era of housing organisations is coming up from the streets, taking over empty properties and helping re-build communities, as Jon Fitzmaurice explains. Many people have now forgotten that quite a few of today’s largest housing associations had very modest beginnings and were often the creation of local activists. For instance, huge organisations like Paragon, Midland Heart, Genesis, Notting Hill and Hyde all started off as very small scale initiatives, driven by groups of people simply getting hold of a few empty street properties. For a long time empty street property provided a relatively quick route into housing for local self-help organisations that wanted to house their members or were working with marginalised people in need of affordable housing. However, in recent years it tailed off, as eligibility to receive government funding became more … (To read the full article, subscribe below)

Jon Fitzmaurice OBE has worked in housing for over 30 years. His first taste of housing was working with young unemployed people on empty properties in Birmingham. Several years ago, he set up Self-Help Housing.Org with funding from the Tudor Trust to promote self-help housing initiatives.