Rising rental costs are making it extremely difficult for young people to afford a home of their own. Y:Housing has come up with a unique solution – providing 100s of affordable homes in partnership with YMCAs across the UK.
When YMCA England and Wales announced that it was selling most of its properties, it presented local YMCAs with an attractive offer. They could buy the properties at a 45% discount. However, many of the properties had been partially funded by a Homes England grant and that funding could only be passed onto registered providers of housing. Other organisations would need to pay back the grant, meaning the original discount would be completely eaten up.
YMCA Blackburn recognised that many local YMCAs would not have time to become registered providers and raise the necessary funds, even if they were already managing the properties they wanted to buy. The charity was already a recognised provider and undergoing organisational changes, so it decided to rebrand as Y:Housing and focus on helping other YMCAs to buy their properties. The premise was simple – Y:Housing would take out a loan to buy the property and the local YMCA would then pay a fee to manage it. If at any point the YMCA became a registered provider, it could buy the property from Y:Housing for the cost of the remaining loan.
Y:Housing has bought several properties so far, providing almost 300 homes. Two of the properties have been partially funded with a Charity Bank loan. The newest project is an old college in Wellington, Shropshire, which is being transformed into 28 single-occupancy flats for young people aged 18-25. While the loan agreement is between Y:Housing and Charity Bank, YMCA Wellington will cover the loan repayments and manage the property.
The new flats will welcome tenants from spring/summer 2024. Many of the tenants will come straight from supported housing. There’s a shortage of move-on accommodation in the area, so young people often get stuck in supported housing for longer than needed, as they can’t afford a full deposit and market rent. That then creates a bottle neck, where people who need supported housing can struggle to find a place.
Melissa Lloyd, CEO of Y:Housing, shares, “We see people who want to move out of supported accommodation but can’t get social housing and can’t rent privately, so if they leave, they end up sofa surfing or homeless.”
The young people who move into the new YMCA Wellington flats will pay rent of around 80% market value and around half the average deposit. They’ll also have a much more support and understanding than if they were renting privately.
Melissa adds, “What we often find with these types of flats is that people move in on their own, then get into a relationship, are able to save money together and then choose to move into a private rental property or buy a home together.”
“Having a lender who understands YMCAs is really helpful, because we're not the easiest organisations to understand! Every time I’ve had to ring Charity Bank up to say, “We need to put this on hold for now,” or “We need more time,” they’ve been really flexible and easy to deal with."Melissa Lloyd, CEO of Y:Housing
About Charity Bank
Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,200 loans totalling over £450m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.
Nothing in this article constitutes an invitation to engage in investment activity nor is it advice or a recommendation and professional advice should be taken before any course of action is pursued.