A pioneering project is breathing nw life into run-down empty homes while helping victims of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.
But the team behind it has warned that those stung by the reform are having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families.
Five of Bradford’s community organisations have come together to create a new non-profit company called Arise Yorkshire Limited, believed to be the first of its kind in the region.
Arise has been given £1.2 million of Government funding to renovate 18 empty homes, which once complete are being rented out as social housing through Manningham Housing Association.
The organisations involved are Bradford Trident, Inspired Neighbourhoods, Holme Christian Community, Royds Community Association and Carlisle Business Centre.
Mick Binns, Trident chief executive and an Arise board member, said renovating a derelict home brought wider benefits to a neighbourhood.
So far, five homes have been renovated and let out. One of their first tenants, mother-of one Vaide Pavlovaite, 27, moved into her new home at Woodhall Avenue, Thornbury, with eight-year-old son Kajus last month .
She said her previous house, rented privately, had had faulty heating and electrics and as it had four bedrooms it was also far too big for the two of them.
She said: “This house is really nice. It has two bedrooms and it’s clean.”
The Government’s under-occupancy reforms, introduced last April, dock people’s housing benefit if they are living in social housing deemed to be too large for their needs, in a move designed to encourage tenants to down-size.
But the National Housing Federation has previously raised concerns that Bradford has a high number of three-bedroom social homes and fewer one- or two-bedroom properties.
The Arise team said it had serious concerns about the effects of the reform on Bradford tenants.
Business advisor David Wilford said: “People are facing the choice of heating or eating through this bedroom tax. A lot of them are actually paying the bedroom tax but sacrificing having food so they can keep the heating on. It’s just horrible.”