In May 2012 a Call To Action was held which saw 100 people and 20 businesses pledge ongoing support to empty homes social ventures, (worth approximately £50,000). The Council’s Chief Executive committed to working with Leeds Empties, and George Clarke - TV Architect and Government Empty Homes Adviser, filmed the day for Channel 4.
Following the ideas explored at the Call To Action, the team have identified ten areas of work – each of which could help to bring more empty homes back into use. These include an “Empty Homes Doctor” service, aimed in particular at “one-off owners” of homes; support for self-help and social ventures; attracting finance to support empty homes renovation; support with green retrofit; and ongoing awareness-raising of how to bring empty homes back into use.
In January 2012 the team came up with a new way of working; a five stage approach – Look for Clues, Create A Buzz, Bring People Together, Build Momentum, Make Things Happen.
The aim is to identify key stakeholders who wish to see a particular issue tackled, and to ask them to invest in the approach.
In the case of Leeds Empties, the main stakeholder is the Council. There is a strong belief that they will invest, as each home brought back into use attracts up to £10,000 in New Homes Bonus from the Government.
The initial focus is on making this model work in Leeds. However, the approach could work in any area with an empty homes problem – as long as the team identifies a local partner with appropriate contacts.