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Crowdfunding Micro Homes- The Holding Project

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by Startacus Admin

The Holding Project
We all know that affordable housing is a big issue, particularly for the younger generation who often struggle with paying rent and saving for mortgage deposits at the same time.  The team at the holding project have an idea that they reckon could help solve both of these issues simultaneously, and plenty more to boot!  

They are currently crowdfunding to raise £30,000 so that they can build their first prototype.  We caught up with Dearbhaile from the team to find out more about the plans.  


Hi Dearbhaile, so first off, can you briefly explain what the holding project is and what the overall aim of the project is? 

Hi Startacus! The Holding Project seeks to build 20 compact, eco-friendly micro homes in Belfast for young people. As the millennial generation become trapped in private rented accommodation for the long term, the project hopes to offer an alternative form of housing as a mechanism towards enabling social mobility. It also provides high quality, affordable and sustainable housing - which is currently undersupplied in Belfast – and can utilise vital sites across the city which are currently vacant

Individuals apply to be part of the project, paying a monthly rent for a unit. The rent covers the running and maintenance of the project – including the units and site. But, an agreed percentage of each month’s rent is held by The Holding Project for the duration an individual remains a resident. Once an agreed savings target has been reached, the individual leaves The Holding Project and is replaced by another applicant. This process allows the impact to reach as many people as possible.

The money saved through the process is intended to allow those who have stayed to either formally enter the housing market, start a business, continue education or to travel. The targeted user group for The Holding Project are young working people, who live alone or with a partner, as the units are compact. It is not our intention to make this type of living the new norm, but to allow it to act as a mechanism through which young people can upwardly mobile, socially and economically.

the holding project  

Why is there a need for something like this, and why do you think that other sustainable and affordable housing schemes haven’t yet been able to make a significant positive impact on the problem?

There are plenty of great holding schemes out there, such as LILAC in Leeds and Recycling Lives but no one has taken this approach and I'm not aware of anything of its kind in Northern Ireland. We are focusing on the housing problem from a number of different angles - the social, cultural, sustainability, and financial. We believe all of these need to be considered when thinking about communities and helping them thrive. 

We are also unique in our desire to start by helping young people - they have in many ways been the hardest hit by the housing crisis and they are struggling to reach the life goals that their parents could at this age, such as buying a house. We are simply offering them a transitional space in which they can be supported in getting to the next stage of their journey. Our housing model could be applied to many different types of people once we have the first community up and running successfully so we are being open minded so as to eventually help as many people as possible.


Why has the team decided to raise the money for your first prototype via crowdfunding, and did you consider other routes to funding?

We have been working alongside Unltd for almost a year now and they have been great at connecting us with other social enterprise projects and ideas. We are part of a cohort called Building Futures and have met with other social entrepreneurs who are also looking at housing. During our conversations the opportunity arose to do a campaign on JustGiving and we felt it would be worth a shot as we would like to build the prototype but more importantly we wanted to give the idea more exposure in the public realm.

So far the response has been fantastic and people understand why the project is so necessary, which has helped us to get to the next stage of its development. As a result of the crowdfunding we have made many new contacts and are now able to have the important conversations we have been working towards. We would love to hit the target but so far it has been an extremely worthwhile and exciting exercise for us. In the future we may look towards public grants as the project hits many of their key objectives.

 the holding project 

If you manage to raise the money to create the prototype, what will the next step be for The Holding Project, how are you planning to move things forward?

Once we build the prototype we will be testing things in more detail and it will allow us to fully cost the finished homes. We plan to hold a launch event and will hold regular events during the testing phase to allow people to see and experience the space and to hopefully attract the grants or investment that we need to start building the community. 

Having the prototype will also allow us to test the green technologies that we are hoping to use on the finished homes - we will be able to measure their efficiency and make decisions on the finer details. We may also begin to compile a waiting list for applications at this stage as potential community members will be able to see the living space for themselves.

Can you give us an idea of some of the biggest challenges you've faced thus far, and what obstacles you envisage facing in the future?

With every new approach or idea there going to be challenges, and I think the housing sector presents many of them at a large scale. Housing involves so many factors that are ring-fenced with red tape such as land law, building control and the need for large capital to get anything done. However, we have started to overcome these one step at a time.

Being a small, new organisation amongst the monoliths has sometimes made it difficult to be heard but slowly we are forging good relationships with organisations who share the vision. Essentially we are trying to disrupt a system that is entrenched in our social, economic and cultural psyche but we have seen other countries re-think housing and know that Northern Ireland has the potential to do the same.


How soon do you plan to have the first person living in one of the micro homes?

Timeframes are too difficult to pin down but hopefully we will host some people in our prototype for short periods of time. This will allow them to get the full experience of living in the space and we can gain vital feedback on how it performs.
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Can you give us an idea of how much it would cost to live in one of these micro homes and how that compares with standard rates in the area?

The exact figure is dependant on the site in the city with the monthly rent averaging the cost of a single bedroom apartment in Belfast. However, this includes the percentage which is returned to the resident upon leaving the project. As a result, the monthly rent will be similar to that of a house-share over the duration of a residents stay.

Aside from the obvious benefit of lower housing costs are there any other ways that residents might benefit from living in the micro home communities?

Absolutely - this is as much a social and cultural project as it is a financial aid. We hope that living amongst a group of like-minded people will motivate young people to mix and start their own projects while they save. There will be an urban garden to tend to and other tasks that will require group work, initiative and new ideas.

We plan to introduce a central meeting space within the community that will allow the community to socialise and hold events and they will to some degree manage themselves while they live there too. This group of people will come from all over the community so it is a chance for them to develop relationships with others who are in a similar situation to them financially but come from different backgrounds.

Thanks for the chat, and best of luck with the rest of the campaign!

If you would like to learn more about crowdfunding you can take a look at some of our recent posts on the matter!


What is Crowdfunding? The Basics Explained.

5 Benefits of Crowdfunding

Key Crowdfunding Terms Explained

Crowdfunding Theory vs Crowdfunding Practice


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Published on: 15th November 2016

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