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YMCA flats could end up costing £1million
4:00pm Tuesday 8th October 2013 in News
SOUTHEND YMCA has revealed plans to develop a £1million block of affordable flats to house vulnerable youths whose lives it has turned around.
The charity, based in Ambleside Drive, Southend, wants to create the homes for people at its accommodation in Ambleside Drive, Southend, to move into, due to a shortage of affordable housing in the borough.
It is looking at two possible sites in Southend to develop six flats for ten to 12 residents after receiving a £300,000 grant from the Government’s empty property community grant programme.
The rest of the cash will come through grants and borrowing.
One possible location is the former commercial buildings next to the YMCA Eco Hub in St John’s Road which have been derelict for two years, with another undisclosed site also a possibility.
The selected building could be converted into flats rather than knocked down and rebuilt.
No planning application has been made as it has yet to finalise the location, but charity bosses feel initial talks with council planning officers have gone well.
The organisation will need £600,000 to £700,000 to redevelop the building with more likely to be needed as the project progresses.
John Levy, YMCA housing manager, said: “Ultimately we may need up to £1million for the project. There really is a need for housing in the area for vulnerable young people. We run a unique, innovative service for young people at risk in a bespoke supported environment to get the skills to live independently.
“We have outstanding results and 33 per cent of residents end up in full and part-time employment, which is excellent when you think about youth unemployment.”
The charity has 30 flats in Ambleside Drive, Southend, housing 16 to 25-year-olds from vulnerable backgrounds, such as those from the care system or with abusive or substance-abusing parents.
The new flats would be a stepping stone for youngsters before moving into their own properties after a year. They could also help people up to the age of 30 who suddenly lose their job through no fault of their own.
On top of the £300,000, the charity has already secured a further £20,000 from grants and a sleep easy event in March when 70 people, including two Echo reporters, slept rough in temperatures of minus four degrees to raise the cash.
It has a mortgage in principle for any shortfall and is applying for further grants.
The YMCA hopes to finalise funding and a planning application by the end of the year before going out to tender.
It is hoped construction will begin in January with the first tenants moving in in 2014.
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