Homes for Good Impact Story:
Grace Ann

Housing supply is a serious issue in Scotland, particularly for households unable to obtain social housing or are marginalised from the mainstream market. Homes for Good Investments, a new venture with Homes for Good CIC and Impact Ventures UK, seeks to ease the supply shortage by investing in homes that can be made available to help more people find affordable, quality housing.

One such person is Grace Ann, who moved into her very first apartment in Scotland when she was 17. “I remember how excited I was to have my own home,” says Grace. Today, at 51, she is experiencing the same excitement in her new flat, thanks to the support of Homes for Good CIC, a community interest company that lets and manages affordable, well-maintained homes for those marginalised from other housing options, including ownership and social housing.

Searching for Stabile Housing

Dependent on benefits, Grace has experienced many challenges finding a quality home. In her last flat, she lived without heat or hot water for four months, due to a faulty boiler. Her landlord suggested that she should help purchase a replacement. Without the funds to do so, she was informed by the landlord her flat would be put up for sale.

Unable to find housing before a serious operation, Grace’s only option was to live with her son, who is also receiving housing benefits and struggles with severe depression and anxiety. She put her name on waiting lists for social housing, detailing the urgency because of her health situation, but was never contacted.

After her surgery, Grace tried to recuperate on her son’s couch, but was not recovering very well. She realised she needed to find her own home.

“I needed to get better,” says Grace. “When I had a my own address, my son would come and stay with me when he felt suicidal. Sometimes that would be a week, or it might be 3-4 months. My home was a safe haven for him. I needed my own place to get stronger and help him.”

After three months at her son’s flat, she began to search for accommodations nearby. By chance, she found a one-bedroom flat on a rental search site. That’s how she first learned about Homes for Good.

“I found a property on the Internet, and I arranged a viewing,” recalls Grace, who says she was apprehensive. “I’ve seen flats that are in bad condition, and people think well, you can’t afford anything else so that’s all you’re going to get.”

A Home—and a Couch—of Her Own

Her fears were eased when she saw the flat and spoke to Nicola Farrell, a Tenancy Support Officer, at Homes for Good.

“I walked in, and the flat was pristine. I just loved it the minute I came in,” she says. “I was still a little unsure, because you never know what the landlord is like, but I talked to Nicola about the rent, and how it’s all handled. When she told me they use their profits to help people find good housing, and that she is a qualified social worker who works with tenants, I just felt instantly safe.”

Having no furniture of her own, Homes for Good arranged to give her a couch. “They came down and delivered it to me,” says Grace. “And they put the couch somewhere that looked nice, and that’s where I’ve left it.”

Just a 5-minute walk away, her son also loves her new flat. “He feels great here, because he knows I am happy. He thinks there’s such a great atmosphere to it.”

A month into her tenancy, Grace is still working on giving her home her own personal touch. “I’ve got a bed now, so I no longer have to sleep on the couch. The kitchen and bathroom are pretty much complete, and the living room is coming along, slowly but surely,” says Grace. “I am looking forward to having my first dinner party.”

Profile

  • Impact Sector: Housing & Shelter
  • Founded: 2013
  • CEO: Susan Aktemel
  • Number of employees: 6
  • IVUK Funding: £2 million
  • Funding Date: September 2014
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