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A coalition to solve the housing crisis

About Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity Great Britain, is an international charity fighting global poverty and homelessness. They believe, and we agree, a decent home helps to permanently break the cycle of poverty and allows families to achieve strength, stability and self-reliance.

About the housing crisis

A lack of decent housing negatively affects the health, education, and well-being of people around the world.

1.8 billion people worldwide live without adequate shelter. It’s not just an international crisis. It impacts people across the UK. 17.5 million people to be exact, according to research from Shelter have no home or one that is unaffordable, unfit, or unstable.

How Habitat for Humanity are addressing the crisis: Empty Spaces to Homes Coalition

The primary solution to the housing crisis remains to increase the supply of housing, particularly affordable homes. However, according to the Centre for Cities, even if we meet the Government’s current target of building 300,000 homes per year, which we are not, it will take over half a century to close the deficit.

That’s why we urgently need to consider supplementary ideas which can increase supply at a much quicker rate. Homebuilding charity Habitat for Humanity Great Britain and real estate company M&G have launched one such initiative, which Davitt Jones Bould has supported from the very beginning:

The Empty Spaces to Homes Toolkit provides a blueprint for converting disused office and retail space into high quality, affordable housing. It is estimated that 19,500 homes could be created from derelict commercial property owned by local authorities alone. The charity has already completed conversions in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and now plans to scale up nationally.

The Empty Spaces to Homes Toolkit and App

In 2022, Habitat for Humanity launched a new toolkit to enable conversions of empty office and retail spaces that could be turned into homes. It also launched an app for people to identify empty commercial spaces that may make good development opportunities.

Davitt Jones Bould provided the legal module in the toolkit which equips organisations to deliver housing within existing legal frameworks, build excellent partnerships with local authorities to deliver projects and deals with more niche/complex issues including the conversion of heritage properties.


Christopher Kerr, Head of ESG at Davitt Jones Bould, says: “On its own, empty spaces to home conversions are not going to solve the housing crisis but as a tool in the toolkit, it is very powerful and effective. From a strategic perspective for Central Government, Local Government and Housing Associations, when there are so many difficulties of building new homes, considering this option would help to increase supply at a much quicker rate.”

David Clare, CEO of Habitat for Humanity GB Homes said: “We are very fortunate to have DJB as part of the Empty Spaces to Homes Coalition – along with their vast amount of knowledge around land and ownership they have brought masses of enthusiasm – they truly believe in this project and have rolled their sleeves up, set to work on providing legal content for our Toolkit and advocate for us as a Charity and what we are hoping to achieve at every given opportunity. Their advice and the connections that they are sharing are invaluable.”

You can download both the toolkit and app here.

News and Interviews


'A charity associated with former US president Jimmy Carter has outlined its plans to combat the housing crisis in the UK.'


'Habitat for Humanity sets sights on converting disused offices and retail to homes'


A huge congratulations to Habitat for Humanity Great Britain for the release of their Empty Spaces to Homes Toolkit and App.


Davitt Jones Bould and M&G joined Habitat for Humanity on stage to present the Empty Spaces to Homes project to representatives from Central Government, Local Government and the private real estate sector.  

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APPG and Audit Wales

Davitt Jones Bould has provided contributions to Habitat for Humanity and their recommendations to the APPGs.  


Repurposing Empty Commercial Spaces



Podcast with Tessa Kelly

Having being established in 1976 to address the challenges of the global housing crisis, Tessa Kelly, Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity sits down with Lizzie Collin to explain their mission, the issues which have caused the lack of supply within the housing market, and some of the innovative solutions which Habitat for Humanities bring forward to combat this ever present issue within a global context. 

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