Look to Community Land Trusts if you want real Help to Buy options, says housing charity

A charity has called for more attention to be given to communities who are developing innovative solutions to help people buy their own homes.

The current Government’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme has received criticism for favouring the better off rather than helping the low and medium earners it was intended for, with Labour saying the programme needs refocusing.

In response to the reports, The National Community Land Trust Network was keen to stress that many community led housing schemes were successfully delivering genuinely affordable housing for low and medium earners, and that the model was worthy of closer attention.

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are a form of community led housing where communities are coming together to tackle local housing problems and build their own affordable housing. The approach has grown seven-fold in the past seven years.

London CLT is a good example of how homes can be built that are genuinely affordable, with repayments linked to what people actually earn within the area. Their approach means someone on a median income never pays more than a third of that income on housing costs. The charity are working with community groups across seven London boroughs, developing projects that deliver real property ownership options.

Residents moved in to London CLT’s first scheme in east London in 2017. A ten-minute drive from Canary Wharf, 1 bed homes at the CLT sold for £130,000; 2 beds for £182,000. These prices are significantly cheaper compared to market values in the area where 1 bed properties cost £450,000 and 2 beds sell for around £550,000 on average.

Catherine Harrington, Director at the National CLT Network said:

“There is a growing grassroots movement going on where communities are innovating to help people who ‘can’t rent, can’t buy’. These are Community Land Trusts (CLTs) and many are coming up with new ways to make housing genuinely affordable for local people. There is a lot of positivity surrounding the movement, and real opportunity for it to scale up and become a mainstream housing option. 

“There certainly should be more support for those who need help to buy, but it’s the communities who are developing innovating solutions to help people buy their own home that we should be paying attention to.”

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