Finding somewhere affordable to live in the Hebrides can be a difficult task. House prices are often higher due to demand from holiday and second homes, whilst building costs and plot prices mean self build can be expensive and getting a mortgage on island wages can be difficult.
Securing a rented house can also be hard. Private lets are limited as many are used for the holiday market. For years young folk in the Hebrides have made do with a winter let of a holiday home – moving in spring to a summer caravan then back to the winter let in the autumn.
In many island communities there is very little social housing – in small communities the limited amount that was built has been sold – leading people with housing needs to seek homes in the main island towns such as Stornoway and Portree, or Oban on the mainland. And awareness of the lack of local options means islanders dont think there is much of a chance of getting housing locally so don’t register their interest – leading to underestimates of need on small islands and limited new building to meet this need.
Tackling the lack of availability of affordable housing and/or rental housing with the help of the local authority requires the community voice their need. Speak with your local councillor, community council and development trust (if there is one).
However, if a community feels they need housing, or even know of individuals looking to rent/buy, the only way to ensure your council will deliver housing in your area is to have a demonstrable need in your community. The most simple and yet absolutely most important method of demonstrating need to your local authority is to have names on your council area’s housing list: Hebridean Housing Partnership, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar; HOME Argyll, Argyll and Bute; Highland Housing Register, Highland Council.
Community Led Housing
Alternatively, your community could deliver housing for yourself. With the assistance of Rural Housing Scotland – Our Island Home, you could investigate your housing need, how that might best be met, how you might fund the project and how you might deliver the project.
This is a very time consuming and intensive method and we strongly recommend that should you follow this path, you employ a dedicated Housing Project Officer. This could be a role delivered on a consultancy model or a way of generating a job through sourcing funding for your organisation to employ a Project Officer.
However, the benefits of having the community as the main driver of housing are that you have control over what housing is delivered, how it is delivered and who delivers it!