Glasgow organisation scoops global award for housing innovation

A Glasgow-based organisation which has transformed empty homes in the city and helped 1,000 people on low incomes to access high-quality properties has won a Gold World Habitat Award.

Homes For Good is a letting agency which buys neglected homes and renovates them to a high standard, then lets them to people on low incomes.

The World Habitat Awards, organised by World Habitat in partnership with UN-Habitat, recognise innovative housing ideas, projects and programmes from across the world.

As a result of winning Gold, Homes For Good will receive £10,000 and the opportunity to share their knowledge and inspire others to follow suit at an international event, which will be organised alongside World Habitat.

Homes For Good was founded in 2013, to improve conditions in the private rented sector and support people on low incomes to access quality homes. It has since raised £20 million in social investment and has bought and developed more than 330 properties. The organisation also manages a further 220 homes, working with 130 landlords and 800 tenants overall.

The creation of HFG portfolio was inspired through its research which showed just 3% of approximately 500 two-bedroom properties on the market at the time were both affordable and accessible to people on benefits – and those that were available were in extremely poor condition.

In addition to homes being renovated, Homes For Good also offers an interior designer to work with tenants to create a home they feel proud to live in. The organisation additionally engages with tenants on issues wider than housing, and includes a programme of activities to improve wellbeing, reduce isolation and provide the chance to develop new skills.

Two residents who have benefited are Ina and her eleven-year-old son Svet, who escaped Ukraine last year. Ina and her husband are a producer and film director, and their work enabled them to save up to build their dream home – but this became a nightmare after the bombing of a nearby airport and occupation by Russian forces.

Ina and Svet managed to escape to Warsaw and get to Glasgow, with Ina’s husband staying to fight for Ukraine.

After their arrival in May 2022 they spent weeks living in a hotel until moving into their Homes For Good property in August. Svet’s room was decorated yellow – his favourite colour – and their new bathroom was almost identical to the one they had in Ukraine.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director at UN-Habitat, said, “With housing and living costs rising globally and increased risk for many to fall into homelessness and informality, we are more convinced than ever that ensuring adequate housing must be understood as a shared responsibility of all housing stakeholders.

“In the case of Homes for Good, we appreciate the full role of the private sector stepping up to provide affordable housing to low-income people, embracing housing in its social function and human rights status. Further, the partnership with specialised organisations ensures that people are put at the centre of each step of the process.”

Susan Aktemel, founder of Homes for Good, added, “We are absolutely thrilled and honoured to win this global award. Developing a new approach and business model to raise standards in the private rented sector has taken a huge amount of work and determination since we started in 2013. As we reach our 10th birthday, we still have significant work to do, and winning the Gold Habitat Award is a huge endorsement and motivator for us to keep going.”