Hosford is the homeless service of East Belfast Mission (EBM) based in the Skainos Centre on the Lower Newtownards Road in East Belfast, and for over 20 years, Hosford has provided services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
East Belfast Mission (EBM) has partnered with social justice charity Commonweal Housing to help address the growing problem of homelessness in Northern Ireland. There is a shortage of truly affordable housing in NI, with insufficient social housing and a private rental sector that is out of reach for people who have been homelessness due to unaffordability and prejudice.
Under the new pilot project, known as ‘You’re Home’, EBM and Commonweal are using social investment to purchase five properties in East Belfast. These will be rented to people to move on from EBM’s homeless hostel and who couldn’t otherwise find or afford anywhere else to live. This will provide a good quality affordable home for five households and free up five spaces in our homeless hostel for people in need.
EBM will offer long and short-term tenancy agreements with subsidised rents to ensure that ‘You’re Home’ provides long-term affordable housing. Tenants pay this rent to EBM and this income covers our lease obligation, maintenance, staffing, and admin costs. Tenants will also be able to avail of wrap-around support services if required to help with issues such as finding a job or budgeting.
In the past twenty years, EBM’s Hosford Services has helped thousands of people who have been homeless or at risk of being homeless. You’re Home sits within Hosford Community Homes - a wider project that pilots innovative solutions to housing supply issues using a blend of social investment, grants, partnerships, and loans to buy and renovate houses for people in housing need. In July, HRH Prince William visited the east Belfast charity to learn more about its approach as part of the UK launch of ‘Homeward’, a new Royal Foundation campaign to end homelessness.
The momentum from the You’re Home Project has helped us make progress on HCH projects.
- 240 Project- converting a disused office building into 6 apartments and a community centre. Now fully funded.
- DAS project – converting a 5 bedroom house into a House of Multiple Occupation to provide a good quality home for destitute asylum seekers. Now fully funded
- 335 – we have a feasibility study and architectural plans to convert a partially derelict 3 story building into 2 apartments for vulnerable women and a community space. Investigating funding options.
- Working on business plans to expand the project using other finance options.
- Working with government departments to contribute to developing capacity in the sector to tackle housing supply issues, particularly around excluded groups.
- Working with other organisations in the voluntary sector to help them progress their projects, tackling housing supply issues across Northern Ireland.
"This is a fantastic project, we have learned so much from Commonweal Housing. This project has created 5 houses lovely for people who are homeless and freed up 5 places in our hostel for people who have higher need. But more than that it is a pilot for a bigger project to access government loans to buy 20 more houses to resettle people who have been homeless."
Tom Dinnen, Hosford Community Homes Lead. Tom.firstname.lastname@example.org
“I am truly amazed and blessed at the prospect of moving into my new home and the opportunity to start afresh. I’m also really pleased that my hostel space will free up for someone else in need.”
First ‘You’re Home’ Tenant
“We know the significant value that having access to a decent and affordable home can bring to vulnerable people. Too many find themselves in the yo-yo of homelessness and temporary accommodation and we hope that ‘You’re Home’ provides a blueprint for Belfast, offering longer term, stable housing that will make a difference to our tenants’ lives. We are proud to be a part of this important and innovative project as we mark our first venture outside of England.”
Ashley Horsey, CEO at Commonweal Housing