Essex-based £2.7m homeless housing project issues urgent plea to find benefactors

Essex-based £2.7m homeless housing project issues urgent plea to find benefactors

CHESS Homeless charity’s plans for 24 climate-friendly living pods has 82.5  percent of funding in place but needs remainder by March 2024 deadline

DOZENS of new climate-friendly modular housing units  for Essex rough sleepers will be ready by early next year as part of a £2.7million project – if the final element of funding can be found before March 2024.

The 24 self-contained modular houses  would be based at one of the  CHESS Homeless charity’s sites  in Chelmsford.

Central to the project is the use of renewable energy sources, while six ground floor units will be tailored with ramps and facilities for those with disabilities and serious health conditions.

Government and local authority backing along with generous private donations mean there is a funding shortfall of just £475,000 , and CHESS CEO Rob Saggs has urged any potential benefactors to get in touch ahead of their springtime deadline.

He explained: “The benefits of this project in helping some of Essex’s most vulnerable residents cannot be overstated.

“Our existing housing stock consists of House of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) but access to this type of a private and independent living space will allow our clients  to more effectively address the issues that saw them become homeless in the first place.

“We are so grateful for all of the support we have already received as it has taken us so tantalisingly close to our target and are now praying for some community-focused heroes to step forward and take us over the finish line.”

The current  site  has nine self-contained units, a large communal space and an office for an outreach team which provides 24/7 support for service users.

Talks with a national construction firm are already underway and the plan is to demolish those nine units and replace them with the 24 modular homes. These modular homes will be energy efficient and come with a 60 year guarantee.

More than half of funding is from the government’s Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP) and is dependent on the project being completed by March 2025.

Chelmsford-based CHESS Homeless helps single homeless adults whose lives have been devastated  by various issues including poor mental health, substance abuse and a lack of affordable housing.

It supports vulnerable people from the local authority areas of Braintree, Maldon, Epping Forest, Rochford, Castle Point, Uttlesford, Brentwood and Chelmsford.

In the year to April 2023, CHESS housed 153 people in desperate need and worked with partners to prevent 149 becoming homeless in the first place.
Its total bed capacity for the county increased from 49 to 66 in 2022 and the new development will take it to 79 .
CHESS purchased  the site  in 2022 with two equal donations and now own the site outright.

The development is believed to be one of the biggest site developments in the country that is specifically targeted for the homeless. CHESS hope the success of this project will inspire other community led charities to do the same.