February 16, 2020
Blackwood Homes and Care, an Edinburgh based accessible housing charity has been granted a £12m loan by the Scottish government to build 160 new high-accessible homes across the country.
The charity has already built more than 1500 accessible homes across Scotland. Dr Margreat Blackwood formed the charity in 1972 after deciding that something needed to be done to make sure that the regularly forgotten in society are able to live independently. Blackwood Homes has several accolades to their name, having won both the Healthy Working Lives & UK Housing Awards’s (UKHA) ‘Inside House’ award.
These new homes will contain state of the art technology, including:
The accessible homes will be integrated with Blackwood’s own digitally-enhanced care system, CleverCogs, which can not only control elements such as the heating and lighting, but receive appointment and medication reminders and allow customers to speak with friends and family using the in-built voice and video chat.
The funding bond was issued by Allia C&C, who specialise in socially responsible funding, using Scottish government investment.
Kevin Stewart, the Scottish Housing Minister commented: “Everyone deserves a home that suits their needs, and that’s why we’re investing in charitable bonds to deliver more affordable, accessible and efficient homes across Scotland. To date, our £172m investment in the programme has provided development finance for over.”
The housing crisis is affecting all sectors of our communities, but the disabled and elderly have been hit the hardest. Across all of the UK, only 7% of homes are considered accessible, meaning that 93% are not visitable by disabled people. Only 1% are wheelchair accessible. This means that even visiting friends and family can be tough, if not impossible, showing the need for more accessible housing so that disabled people do not continue to suffer an isolated existence.
The primary focus of the new properties is to provide accessible, future-proofed environments for disabled people to live their life to the fullest, says the charity. Many of the features will be voice activated, meaning there are less complicated screens or systems to deal with.
Technological advances have meant that features can be built into new and existing housing for less and in greater quantities. The inclusion of an Alexa type voice system in one’s home was a common 80’s movie trope used to show how amazing the future would be, and here we are - at least they got something right.
There has been talk of a renewed focus on accessible housing by the UK government for a long time, but putting things into action has been slow and it has meant that targets have been missed year after year.
The investment from the Scottish government has favourable rates and should hopefully encourage other charities or parts of the sector to get involved. The Scottish government appears to be the most active of the UK’s devolved powers, providing £172m to-date, funding the building of 1,200 affordable homes.
The loans will vary between 5-15 years with no loan and interest repayments to be made until after the agreed term passes.
And in an interesting turn, the interest payments will be used by the Scottish government to fund other social housing projects in the future, so the money passes from one hand to another, helping different sectors of society with each turn.