Monday the 2nd of May’s NFA meeting in the Hall was specifically about sharing and discussing information to do with how the shared equity affordable housing to be built this coming year on Duneland will be allocated. A very specific topic and not that inspiring you might say but to the contrary it marks the beginning of a long term structure and strategy within this community that has the potential to transform some of the housing challenges we at present and in the future will face. Without decent affordable housing only the select few with capital will be able to live here as the caravans are replaced by housing unless of course you continue to be employed by the Foundation and live in one of its houses where your accommodation is tied to your job. But what happens when you get older… and where will the youth and young families etc live that cannot be accommodated by the Foundation… ?
Let’s take a look at the whole topic of affordable housing. In Scotland it is only possible to build this and make it available by having some subsidy and the usual way of doing this is through government grants and for larger housing projects, such as that on Duneland, by making it a planning condition that there is a level of subsidy provided for 25% of all houses produced. At present this is about £50,000/ house and of course this social ‘burden’ is carried by all those that pay the full price for their houses. Interesting that by providing affordable housing in this way you make it less affordable for the general buyer! The problem is that government grants for this are being cut due to the recession which means that there is a rethink needed on the whole national strategy of how to continue to provide such housing.
I suppose that is why what we are pioneering here is important. The subsidy is coming from Duneland as the developer but it is also coming from donations and the generosity of interest free loans etc from people that wish to support this community including many of you that may be reading this. A good number of the shareholders are prepared to take nothing for the capital that they have had in the company for up to fourteen years as part of that support- a huge thank you to them! A few shareholders are willing to give substantial amounts of their capital to the project – another big thank you! Individuals have decided to put their savings into the pot for providing affordable housing within this community because they strongly believe in its benefits – thank you! Coffee morning money and support- thank you! Etc,etc.
But… what became clear on Monday is that for some even providing housing at nationally set levels of affordability may be too much given the local pay and economy of the place. Let’s not belittle the great initiative and huge effort happening here but let’s also be open to a rethink. Could this be the topic for our next NFA meeting?