The morning is crisp when activity starts on Broad Street in Dagenham. I’m visiting one of Habitat for Humanity’s projects; the renovation of a building that has been abandoned more than ten years ago. Volunteers arrive to help turn this empty building into housing again, which will provide a home for three families in housing need.
The building on Broad Street, less than a mile away from the Ford site, has been lying empty for years. Many other properties in the area are in a similar situation. Now, a large banner outside of the properties announces that 301 volunteers have been working on renovating these houses. A large container filled with building waste is parked outside. The construction noises can be heard throughout the street. Energetic people wearing yellow jackets and safety shoes are walking in and out, commanded by Tony, the cheerful construction manager.
Apart from creating local housing solutions, Habitat for Humanity is bringing energy back to the streets in neighbourhoods like Dagenham. It is this vigorous investment that is needed for the renewal of a neighbourhood; local, small and people-led investments displaying great creativity and enthusiasm.
HACT and Self-help Housing.org are supporting these organisations to create a structure for such initiatives, in effort to build links between these housing solutions and the mainstream housing sector. It resembles the starting days of many of today’s large housing associations and co-ops, when housing solutions were created for and by the community. It’s not a new idea, but it is one that we need to turn back to.
Line Algoed, Self-Help Housing Intern, HACT
30 November 2012
(Full Article on HACT website)